Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion is a surgical technique used for joining two or more vertebrae in the spine and minimizing spine pain caused by movement of vertebrae.

A surgeon can perform open surgery or minimally invasive procedure to create a lumbar fusion.

Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion includes a piece of bone harvested from another part of the body. A bone bank may also be contacted to get transplants to be placed between adjacent vertebrae. The slow healing process occurs when bone fuses the spine. The accelerated growth of solid bone mass helps in stabilizing the spine. Metal implants can also be used to hold vertebra firm until new born grows in between.

Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion

The minimally invasive lumbar fusion technique is used for treating fractured vertebra. It can also be used to treat lumbar instability, spine deformities, cervical disc hernias, tumors, failed back syndrome and back pain. This surgical procedure can also be used to treat spondylolisthesis, a painful condition of the spine which is caused by spine displacement or slipped disc.

Some of the techniques used for minimally invasive surgery include the following.

  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion, ALIF – To access the spine from the front
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion, PLIF – To approach the spine from the back
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, TLIF – To approach the spine from the side

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

The anterior approach involves four small incisions with the length of around 0.5 inch each made to the abdomen. The muscles and blood vessels are retracted to fuse the vertebrae.

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

There are several 0.5 inch incisions made in posterior lumbar inter body fusion on the back. There is a series of increasingly large dilators used to spread muscles apart and provide access to spine. Tubes and dilators are used to place rods and screws. Sometimes the surgeon may also use operating microscope to get a better view.

Transformational Lumbar Interbody Fusion

In this procedure, the surgeon makes a 2 inches’ incision to the patient’s side. The surgeon moves the muscles apart and larger dilators are gradually placed down to the lumbar spine. The intervertebral disc is incised and removed using specially designed instruments. The surgeon places metal, plastic, bone graft or other material as a spacer between vertebrae. Upon healing this vertebra heals and become part of the solid bone. The technique is deployed in combination with a posterior approach for placing rods and screws for strengthening the fusion.

There are many advantages of using a minimally invasive surgical technique which include:

  • Reduced amount of blood lost
  • Better and faster recovery leading to lesser days stay in the hospital
  • A significant reduction in postoperative pain
  • Minimal damage to adjacent tissues