Lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure designed to alleviate lower back pain through the stabilization of two or more vertebral segments. The lumbar region of the spine, particularly the L4-L5 level, is the most common location of spinal conditions – including herniated discs, bulging discs and spinal stenosis – that can produce neuropathic symptoms like pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness. The frequency of these conditions in the lower back is due to normal wear and tear brought on by bending and twisting, as well as the amount of body weight supported by the lumbar vertebrae.
Types of lumbar fusion
In general, lumbar fusion involves the removal of a portion of the spinal anatomy that is causing nerve compression. This can include the intervertebral disc and some or all of the rear vertebral arch (the lamina, the spinous process, transverse processes, etc.). Then, depending on the type of fusion being performed, a bone graft might be inserted. In every type of fusion surgery, implants are used to help connect the affected vertebrae.
The location of the compressed nerve will determine the type of lumbar fusion to be performed. The difference boils down to point of entry:
• Posterolateral gutter fusion – performed through the back
• Posterior lumbar interbody fusion – performed through the back and includes the removal of an intervertebral disc, followed by the insertion of a bone graft
• Anterior lumbar interbody fusion – performed through the front of the body and includes the removal of a disc, followed by the insertion of a bone graft
• Anterior/posterior fusion – performed through the front of the body and the back
Spinal fusion alternative
Tens of thousands of patients have found an alternative to traditional open spine lumbar fusion at Laser Spine Institute. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced techniques can help you find relief from back pain.