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What is lumbar spinal fusion?
Lumbar spinal fusion is an operation that causes the vertebrae (bones of the spine) in the lower back to grow together. The goal of the lumbar fusion is to have the two vertebrae fuse (grow solidly together) so that there is no longer any motion between them. Removing the intervertebral disc
(cushion between the bones) or bone spurs can reduce some of the pressure on the nerves, helping to reduce pain. Additionally, by fusing the two vertebrae together,
this may stop the formation of bone spurs at that location, further reducing pain and potential nerve injury.
There are many different specific techniques to try to fuse the vertebrae together. The surgery can be performed either through an incision in the back, the abdomen, or a combination of both. In many cases metal screws and rods are placed from the back into the bones to hold them
in position while the fusion occurs. During an interbody fusion, the surgeon removes the intervertebral disc and places either a
bone graft or a metal or plastic cage, or a combination of these in its place. The decision on what type of fusion is best for each patient is based on their specific complaints and the cause of symptoms. Spinal fusion can be very effective in the properly selected patient.