Spinal fusion, also called arthrodesis, is a surgical technique used to join two or more vertebrae (bones) within the spine. Lumbar fusion technique is the procedure of fusing the vertebrae in lumbar (lower back) portion of the spine.
Indications of Lumbar Posterior Fusion
Lumbar fusion surgery is indicated in the following conditions:
- Spondylolisthesis (slipping of the spine bones)
- Damaged discs
- Scoliosis or kyphosis (abnormal curvatures of the spine)
- Spinal infections or tumours
- Traumatic injury of the spine
- Recurrent disc herniation
- Spinal instability
Procedure of Lumbar Posterior Fusion
The procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia. The surgeon makes an incision on the patient’s back and the soft tissues and blood vessels are retracted to enhance the clarity and accessibility to the spine. Your surgeon removes the whole disc or a part of the damaged disc between two adjacent vertebrae followed by fusion of the same with or without the use of bone grafts. External implant materials such as rods, screws, plates, and wires may be fixed to the treated vertebrae to deliver extra support and stability during the healing process. At the end of the procedure, the structures are re-approximated and the skin is closed with sutures.
Recovery after Surgery
The recovery period after surgery depends on the body’s healing capacity. The post-surgical hospitalization includes a rehabilitation program. If required your surgeon may prescribe pain medications or a brace and follow-up physical therapy upon discharge.
The period of your rest or inactivity depends on a few factors such as the type of surgical procedure and the approach used to access your spine, the size of the incision and presence of any complications. Activities such as bending, twisting, and lifting heavy weights are restricted in the first 2-4 weeks after surgery. Return to work or normal activity depends on the type of work or activity you plan to perform. With the advanced and innovative techniques, it is now possible to achieve improved fusion rates, short hospital stay with an active and rapid recovery period.
Follow the post-operative instructions suggested by your spine surgeon to promote healing and reduce the possibility of post-operative complications.
Risks and Complications
The complications of posterior lumbar fusion surgery include infection, nerve damage, blood clots, blood loss, bowel and bladder problems and any problem associated with anesthesia. The primary risk of lumbar fusion surgery is failure of fusion of vertebral bones which may require an additional surgery.
Discuss with your surgeon if you have concerns regarding posterior lumbar fusion procedure.