Posterolateral fusion and minimally invasive alternatives

Instability of the spine can be caused by several types of degenerative spine conditions, which cause the components of the spine to slowly deteriorate. An example of spinal instability caused by a spine condition is a degenerative disc. Discs in the spine help to support and properly space the vertebrae, allowing them to bend and move without abrasion between vertebrae. If a disc begins to deteriorate due to age and 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 slip over the 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 is designed to restore spinal stability by fusing together two vertebrae with bone graft material and stabilizing hardware like rods and screws.

If you have been recommended to undergo a traditional open back fusion for spinal stability, you should thoroughly research 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 can have significant differences. As you continue to research your options for spinal fusion, we encourage you to reach out to the caring 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 surgery 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 that are 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 prevent the fusion from forming properly, thus resulting in failed back surgery syndrome.

An outpatient alternative to spinal fusion

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

Our minimally invasive posterior lumbar interbody fusion provides spinal stabilization through an outpatient procedure that offers patients a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication^ than traditional open back fusion.

During this procedure, the damaged disc or joint in the spine is removed through a small incision that is possible through muscle-sparing techniques. 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 stabilize the spine.

When you contact us, we can help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.