What is a lumbar fusion?
Fusion surgery removes the disc in between two vertebrae and eliminates motion. It is an option when other less invasive measures are unable to treat the problem. Several spinal conditions necessitate a fusion such as in cases of instability between bones. Depending on the levels fused, some spinal flexibility will be lost. However many times because of advanced arthritic changes, the spine has already lost most of its flexibility.
How is a minimally invasive lumbar fusion performed?
During fusion surgery, the disc in between the bones is removed and cleaned out. Generally a spacer made from space age metals is placed in between with a type of bone material, called bone graft. This spacer is held in place using plates, screws, and rods. Although you would think with all this metal being placed around your spine that it would instantly be fused, actually the fusion process takes several months, and depends a lot on your overall health. This is one reason why we focus on optimizing your health prior to surgery. Patients with poor overall health and smokers may experience higher rates of complications.