In a lumbar fusion procedure, transplanted bone grows together with existing bone in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spinal column. It forms one solid bone to stabilize and restore strength to that section of the spine.
Our skilled Los Angeles neurosurgeons at Hunt Spine perform lumbar fusion with the most advanced method with smaller incisions, a minimally invasive technique for a safer, quicker, procedure with reduced post-operative pain and less downtime.
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When Is Lumbar Fusion Needed?
Lumbar fusion may be appropriate when the lumbar region of the spine has become unstable. This can occur as the result of deformity, a tumor, trauma, or degeneration. It can also occur as a side effect of medical intervention to treat a tumor, a deformity, or a degenerated disc.
When the spine has become unstable because of medical treatment, this is known as iatrogenic instability. It may be necessary to surgically remove sections of disc or bone in the lower back to reduce the pain and symptoms associated with a degenerated disc, a tumor, or a spinal deformity. As this can leave the spine structure less stable, lumbar fusion may be performed to restore strength and prevent or correct iatrogenic instability.
How Is Lumbar Fusion Performed?
Minimally invasive lumbar fusion may be performed using either of two common procedures:
- Transforaminal interbody lumbar fusion (TLIF) in which the surgeon can achieve fusion in both the front and back of the spine in one procedure
- Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) in which the spine is approached from the side for the least disruption to muscles, bones, and organs
The procedure involves placing small incisions through which tubular dilators (tubes of expanding diameter) are inserted to create a tunnel through the tissues down to the spinal column. Tubular retractors are used to hold the tunnel open during the procedure.
The spine surgeon may use an endoscope (thin tube with a camera and light attached) to view the treatment area. Radiographic imaging may also be used to help guide the procedure.
Spinal fusion is performed through the retractor. The surgeon places a bone graft to create a bridge between the existing bones. The graft may come from a bone bank or from the patient’s own body, taken from the hip bone.
The surgeon may use a bone-promoting substance or other materials to aid bone growth or add volume to the bone graft. Screws, rods, or plates may be used to hold the bone in place. Finally, the surgeon removes the retractor and closes the incision.
Advantages of Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion
Lumbar fusion using minimally invasive techniques has a number of advantages over traditional open surgery, including:
- Smaller incisions
- Less blood loss
- Reduced risk of infection
- Less muscle and soft tissue damage
- Reduced post-operative pain
- Less need for medication
- Faster recovery
When you come to Hunt Spine for a lumbar fusion procedure, your skilled surgical team includes both a neurosurgeon and an orthopaedic spine surgeon. We have the medical skill sets to address and treat any aspect of spinal injury or degenerative disc disease with the most advanced treatments now available.