- Low Back Pain Slideshow
- Take the Back Pain Quiz!
- Back Pain Slideshow: Myths and Facts
- Patient Comments: Spinal Fusion - Experience
- Minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion facts
- Introduction to lumbar spinal fusion
- What is lumbar spinal fusion?
- What is minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- What are the advantages of minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- What is the disadvantage of minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- How effective is minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
- Am I a candidate for minimally lumbar invasive spinal fusion?
How effective is minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion?
The results for the minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion through the abdomen have not been as good as the traditional open anterior (from the front of the spine) fusion techniques. The success of the fusion has been less reliable, the operative times are longer and there are increased risks of injury to the nerves using the minimally invasive techniques. Because of this, many surgeons have stopped using this technique.
The results of the minimally invasive procedures through the back have been much more promising. Experienced surgeons are able to perform lumbar spinal fusion through the back quicker, with similar fusion rates, less blood loss, and quicker recovery times than using traditional techniques.
The newer minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion techniques though the patient's side are still being refined. The initial techniques had some increased risk of damage to nerves, but more recent changes have made these even safer and more effective. The results so far are very promising for this technique, but there have been a limited number of studies. Additionally, since this was only recently developed, there are fewer surgeons performing this technique.
Am I a candidate for minimally lumbar invasive spinal fusion?
First, you and your doctor need to determine if you are a candidate for spinal fusion. Remember, the majority of patients with low back pain recover within six weeks regardless of treatment. If you have had prolonged symptoms you should see your physician. If it is decided you may need surgery you will be referred to a spinal surgeon for further evaluation. If a fusion is thought to be potentially beneficial for you, the option of minimally invasive techniques can then be discussed with your surgeon.
Medically reviewed by Aimee V. HachigianGould, MD; American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
"Subacute and chronic low back pain: Surgical treatment"