Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion
What Is Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion?
In a posterolateral fusion, pedicle screws and rods also may be implanted to stabilize the spine until the bone graft heals. A single-level fusion fuses two vertebrae and usually uses four screws and two rods. A two-level fusion fuses three vertebrae and uses six screws and two rods.
Traditional, open spine surgery involves cutting or stripping the muscles from the spine. Today, a posterolateral fusion can be performed using minimally invasive spine surgery, a treatment that involves a smaller incision and muscle dilation, allowing the surgeon to gently separate the muscles surrounding the spine rather than cutting them.
Why Do I Need This Procedure?
Your surgeon will take a number of factors into consideration before recommending posterolateral fusion, including the condition to be treated, your age, health and lifestyle and your anticipated level of activity following surgery. Please discuss this treatment option thoroughly with your spinal care provider.
How Is Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion Performed?
Spinal Access and Bone Removal
First, your surgeon will make a small incision in the skin of your lower back. Depending on the instrumentation to be used, the incision could be as small as approximately 3 centimeters. In a traditional posterolateral fusion, a 3- to 6-inch incision is typically required.
The muscles surrounding the spine will then be dilated to allow access to the section of spine to be stabilized. After the spine is accessed, the lamina (the “roof” of the vertebra) is removed to allow visualization of the nerve roots. The facet joints, which are directly over the nerve roots, may be trimmed to give the nerve roots more room.
A bone graft is then laid between the transverse processes in the back of the spine. Screws and rods are implanted to stabilize the spine while the treated area heals and fusion occurs.
Your surgeon will then close the incision, which typically leaves behind only a small scar or scars.
How Long Will It Take Me To Recover?
A positive attitude, reasonable expectations and compliance with your doctor’s post-surgery instructions all may contribute to a satisfactory outcome. Many patients are able to return to their regular activities within several weeks.
To determine whether you are a candidate for minimally invasive surgery, talk to your doctor.
Are There Any Potential Risks Or Complications?
Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse effects, clinical results and other important medical information that pertains to minimally invasive posterolateral lumbar fusion.
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