Understanding Lateral Lumber Interbody Fusion

The first step of this surgery typically is removing the intervertebral disk between the vertebrae. These disks are fibrocartilage that typically absorbs the shock between the bones of the spinal column and provide protection for the nerves that line the spine. However, if someone needs fusion surgery, these disks may have become a source of painful motion.

Following the removal of the disk between the lumbar bones, surgeons typically will implant a plastic, metal, or bone spacer between them. And with the addition of bone graft materials, the two vertebral bones generally will fuse to the new spacer and heal. Sometimes surgeons will stabilize the spine further using metal plates, screws, and rods.

How Are Incisions Made?

Surgeons conducting lateral lumbar interbody fusion often make incisions on the side of the body between the hip and ribs. This typically allows them to reach the intervertebral disks between the vertebrae without opening back muscles or disturbing any nerves.

The surgeon generally will have patients laying on their side on a table that is bent at an angle so that they have a good view of the spine. After making the necessary incisions, the surgeon might choose to insert a tubular retractor down the spinal column in order to hold the muscles open and provide a better view of the vertebrae.

Afterward, the surgeon may remove the disk and insert bone graft materials between the vertebrate, fixing it in place with titanium screws. Depending on the situation, the person who underwent the surgery might need an additional incision in their back for screw placement.

Benefits of This Type of Back Surgery

Regardless of the specific surgical approach that is used, this spinal fusion procedure offers plenty of benefits, including:

• improvements in spinal bone alignment

• minimal damage to the midline back muscles

• easier spinal access

In some situations, a person might have the option of undergoing lateral lumbar interbody fusion using less invasive techniques to minimize the risk of a muscle injury. However, this typically will depend on their unique situation. A surgeon could help determine what kind of procedures are in line with the patient’s specific health needs.

If you would like a consultation on this procedure, contact Elite Spine & Orthopedics at (855) 77-SPINE.