Spinal Fusion - Experience

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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.

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Comment from: nga99, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

Four months ago, I had surgery for spinal stenosis. The surgeon took a bone out of my back. The stay in the hospital was two days. Now I am scheduled for minimally invasive lumbar spinal fusion through my left side. This time the stay in the hospital will be 5 to 7 days with rehabilitation for 2 to 3 weeks. I don't understand why rehab. I have a difficult time going to the hospital because I only sleep in my bed. I can barely do the hospital stay and now rehab! I know I will be signing out. I don't leave my house normally except for doctor's appointment. It is just 4 months after first surgery and now this.

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Comment from: Erik T. Bendiks,M.D, 75 or over Male (Caregiver) Published: February 17

Those who have heard of lumbar fusion surgery might be aware of the benefits it brings along. It is a minimally invasive procedure which causes relatively less damage to the surrounding tissues. Unfortunately, in conventional spinal surgery, it was essential to cut through muscles and move them for reaching the spine. This, in turn, causes severe pain after surgery. Also, it lengthens the recuperation time. Rather than cutting as well as moving muscles, such minimally invasive procedures can gently spread through the muscles allowing easy access to the spine. Not only is it relatively lesser painful, but also does not take long for muscles to heal.

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