Lumbar fusion is a surgical procedure used to treat specific problems that would not respond well to decompression surgery alone.
Lumbar fusion is a procedure that is performed to join two lumbar vertebrae together. This has consequences for range of motion but for many patients the problems being treated are causing pain and limiting range of motion due to pain, instability, and degeneration. There are many different methods to perform lumbar fusion but the primary two options are traditional open lubar fusion vs more modern miniminally invasive techniques.
Open Lumbar Fusion
Open lumbar fusion involves making a large incision in the back, separating the muscles off the spine, and exposing the bones of the spine. Once visualized, the bone is drilling and then bone from a cadaver or from a separate location like the patient’s hip is removed and placed along the spine. Screws can be placed in this fashion to hold the bones together. The surgery usually entails significant risks with a relatively high chance of infection and transfusion due to the large surface area exposed. This is the most common method of fusion in the United States in 2021.
Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion
This is a more modern form of lumbar fusion that involves making tiny incisions and being less disruptive to the spine and the muscles around it. The technology has been around since around 2000 but is has not been widely adopted. The same techniques are employed to obtain fusion but without the high risk of blood transfusion and infection. Patients also mobilize quicker and go home faster than with open lumbar fusion. This is the primary method used by Dr. Yam in his practice because of the numerous advantages to patients vs the traditional surgery.
Lumbar Fusion Indications
- Lumbar spondylolisthesis
- Lumbar disc degeneration
- Lumbar foraminal stenosis
- Failed lumbar decompression
- Recurrent disc herniation
- Failed lumbar fusion / Revision Surgery
- Scoliosis deformity of the spine
- Kyphotic deformity of the spine
- Fracture of the spine
- Many more indications
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