Minimally invasive spinal fusion — bone grafts for L4-L5 spinal fusion

One of the most common questions patients have when considering a L4-L5 fusion is if they will need a bone graft to fuse together the impacted vertebrae.

The short answer is yes. A bone graft is a standard component of a L4-L5 spinal fusion procedure.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer an effective alternative to traditional open back fusion. Our minimally invasive spinal fusion of the L4-L5 vertebrae is performed through a 1-inch incision in the back and does not disrupt surrounding muscles or soft tissues. This results in minimal scarring and shorter recovery time^ for you after the procedure. During the surgery, the surgeon will remove a portion of the diseased disc in between your L4-L5 vertebrae in your lower back. Once the disc is removed, the surgeon will insert a bone graft in the empty disc space to immediately stabilize the spine.

What You Need to Know About Bone Grafting

A bone graft is inserted in between two vertebrae to stabilize the spine during our minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure. Over time, this graft will facilitate the growth of new bone between the two vertebrae, in this case the L4-L5 vertebrae. Ultimately, a solid segment of bone will form, resulting in permanent stabilization at that level of the spine.

There are several options available to patients who require a bone graft for our minimally invasive L4-L5 fusion surgery. The types of grafts are as follows:

  • Autograft — Also called autologous bone, this graft is taken from the patient’s own body (usually the pelvic bone). This is usually the preferred grafting method since it greatly reduces the risk of infection and/or graft rejection. A separate procedure called “harvesting” is required to obtain the bone prior to fusion.
  • Allograft — This type of bone graft is obtained from a bone bank. The bone is harvested from cadavers for use in surgical procedures like fusions. Allograft bone may be added to autograft bone if supplemental bone is needed. The main benefit of using allograft bone is that a harvesting procedure is not necessary.
  • Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) — BMP stimulates human bone growth naturally, without the need for bone harvesting. BMP is currently only approved by the FDA for anterior lumbar interbody fusion.

The type of bone graft that is right for you will largely depend on your individual medical history and the type of minimally invasive fusion you are undergoing. For instance, smokers who are obese or who have poor bone quality are less likely to have successful grafts and/or fusions. If you are considering fusion, talk with a surgeon about your options for bone grafting and create a plan of action that will best benefit you and promote healthy fusion.

For more information about our minimally invasive L4-L5 fusion surgery, please call our Spine Care Consultants and schedule a review of your most recent MRI and medical history to determine your candidacy for our procedure.