Posterolateral fusion

Instability of the spine can be caused by several types of degenerative spine conditions, which cause the components of the spine to slowly deteriorate and create weakness in certain areas of the spine. An example of spinal instability caused by a degenerative spine condition is a deteriorated disc. Discs in the spine help to support and properly space the vertebrae of the spine, allowing them to bend and move without abrasion between vertebrae. If a disc begins to deteriorate due to continued pressure on the spine, the space and support between two vertebrae may begin to weaken. This can cause the vertebrae to rub against each other and develop painful bone spurs, or it may cause the upper vertebra to fall over top of the lower vertebra, causing a pinched nerve, limited mobility and spinal instability.

Patients suffering from pain caused by instability of the spine may be recommended to undergo a posterolateral fusion. This type of traditional open back fusion aims to regain spinal stability by fusing together two vertebrae in the spine at the area of weakness. In the example above, the two vertebrae surrounding the deteriorated disc would be fused together to maintain proper spacing and alignment between vertebrae.

If you have been recommended to undergo a traditional open back fusion for spinal stability, you should thoroughly research all of your surgical options before deciding on the right treatment for you. While all spinal fusions aim to regain support and stability in the spine, the techniques used to achieve this goal are vastly different between spine surgery options. As you continue to research the two main options for spinal fusion (traditional open back fusion and minimally invasive stabilization), we encourage you to reach out to our Care Team at Laser Spine Institute for more information on the treatment options available to you.

Posterolateral fusion overview

Posterolateral fusion is a common traditional open back fusion that is used to treat patients with more severe forms of spinal instability.

The procedure begins with a large incision that cuts through the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine. During this procedure, a bone graft is placed between the vertebrae in the spine that surround the deteriorated disc or joint that is causing the instability. The deteriorated disc is left intact during this procedure, and the bone graft fuses around the damaged disc to stabilize the spine.

Because of the increased risk of infection and excessive blood loss that is associated with traditional open back fusion, patients are required to be hospitalized for several days following the procedure. Additionally, the large incision made at the beginning of the procedure creates excessive scar tissue, which could cause prevent the fusion from forming properly, thus resulting in failed back surgery syndrome.

A safer, more effective alternative for spinal fusion

Patients with severe spinal instability can also find treatment through minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Our minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.

Our minimally invasive posterior lumbar interbody fusion provides spinal stabilization through a lower-risk procedure that offers patients a shorter recovery time§ than traditional open back fusion.

During this procedure, the damaged disc or joint in the spine is removed through a small incision. This small incision avoids the disruption and cutting of the surrounding muscles and soft tissue, which allows the patient to have a shorter recovery process§ and a decreased risk of infection than patients who undergo traditional open back fusion. Once the disc or joint is removed, the surgeon will insert an implant or bone graft to fuse the two surrounding vertebrae in order to immediately stabilize the spine.

If you suffer from chronic back pain and you have not found any relief from conservative treatments, contact Laser Spine Institute today. Our trained staff will help you schedule a consultation or review of your MRI report or CT scan to determine your candidacy for one of our outpatient procedures. You deserve to be educated before undergoing any surgery, so take the next step by contacting Laser Spine Institute today.