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Back Surgery (Minimally Invasive Lumbar Spinal Fusion)

WHAT IS SPINAL FUSION SURGERY?

Spinal fusion is a surgical procedure done to join two or more bones of the spine together permanently. In case of minimally invasive spinal fusion a smaller cut is made than the traditional spinal fusion surgery. Vertebrae stack on top of each other to make up the spinal column which is separated by intervertebral discs. These bones protect the delicate spinal cord, which sends and receives information from the brain to the rest of the body.

Due to different medical conditions, the vertebrae start to move against each other more than they should resulting in the surrounding nerves stretching the ligaments and muscles leading to pain. Spinal fusion may stop this pain by preventing 1 or more of the vertebrae from moving.  

WHY IS SPINAL FUSION SURGERY DONE?

A spinal fusion surgery may be needed for a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Scoliosis
  • Break (fracture) of spinal column
  • Infection of spinal column
  • Tumor in the spinal column

These conditions may cause significant back pain. Other conservative options may first be evaluated such as pain medicines and physio-therapy. If they don’t work, minimally invasive spinal fusion may be recommended. Spinal fusion is not the solution for all types of back pain. Consult a Doctor for the recommended treatment.  

HOW IS SPINAL FUSION SURGERY DONE?

Before the surgery

  1. Complete medical evaluation based on the condition including imaging tests of the spine such as an MRI etc.  
  2. Stopping any medicines ahead of time, like blood thinners etc., as advised. 
  3. Quit smoking before your surgery, avoid eating or drinking after midnight before the surgery as advised by the Doctor.  

During the surgery: 

  1. Depending on the problem, a surgeon might use different approaches to get to the vertebrae e.g from the side or through the back.  
  2. Minimally invasive spinal fusion surgery is done under general anesthesia. A small incision is made to access the spine. The surgeon gently pushes away the muscles of the back and then welds together 2 or more of the vertebrae, using bone or some other artificial material (graft).
  3. Finally, the layers of skin around the incision are surgically closed.

Minimally invasive spinal fusion uses a smaller incision than traditional surgery. It also doesn’t cut away the muscles of the spine leading to faster recovery times than traditional surgery.  

After the surgery:

  1. Immediately after surgery, the patient is kept in an ICU for observation, medication for pain and antibiotics to prevent infection are prescribed. 
  2. Imaging procedures like X-ray will be done to see the outcome of the surgery
  3. The patient might have a little drainage from the incision.
  4. Patient is normally discharged in 2-3 days and can resume regular activities fairly quickly.
  5. Stitches are removed a week or so after your surgery.  

WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF MINIMALLY INVASIVE SPINAL FUSION?

Most people do very well with their minimally invasive spinal fusion. But as with any surgery, the procedure does carry some risks. Possible complications include:

  • Infection
  • Too much bleeding
  • Lack of a solid bone fusion
  • Nerve damage
  • Blood clots

There is also a risk that the surgery will not effectively get rid of the pain, or that the surgery might cause a different type of persistent pain at the graft site.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

 

  1. Inform the Doctor in case of  high fever or severe pain that is not improving or in case of any redness, swelling, or draining from the incision.
  2. Ensure to keep all follow-up appointments.
  3. During healing, it’s important to keep the spine in proper alignment.

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