Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

If you struggle with back or leg pain due to disc problems in your spine, you might worry that the surgery options are painful and complicated. However, a lateral lumbar interbody fusion is a common and minimally invasive technique that can treat back pain stemming from various pathologies including degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and spondylolisthesis.

To move past the health problems connected to your back issues, consider this safe and effective procedure. A skilled doctor could sit with you and discuss whether a lateral lumbar interbody fusion is the right choice for you.

Understanding the Procedure

It belongs to a group of treatments called spinal fusion surgeries, which often involve synthesizing two or more of the tiny, interlocking bones called vertebrae that form your spinal column. In particular, lateral interbody fusion focuses on fusing bones of the lumbar spine, which is the region of the lower back where the spine begins to curve inward in the direction of the abdomen.

Essentially, it is the process of welding together the bones in the lower back to decrease pain created by the joints and discs. However, unlike other techniques, the surgeon could access the intervertebral space in a direct, lateral manner that equates to less invasiveness than alternatives such as posterior lumbar interbody fusion and anterior lumbar interbody fusion with instrumentation.

How Surgery Works

The first step of the 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.

Through 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. Often, surgeons may follow-up by stabilizing the spine further using metal plates, screws, and rods.

How Are Incisions Made?

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

The surgeon generally will have the patient lay 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, which may include:

  • 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.

Learn More About Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Back pain can be rooted in many causes, from pinched nerves to scoliosis. Regardless of the cause, back pain could be detrimental to your quality of life. If you are suffering from back pain due to disc problems in your lower back, call an experienced spine doctor to discuss lateral lumbar interbody fusion. Schedule an appointment for a medical consultation to address your back pain issues today.