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Lumbar Fusion Specialist

Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group

Spine Surgeons & Neurosurgeons located in Fresno, CA

Lower back pain is one of the top causes of disability, even affecting 40% of adults between the ages of 18-44 years. After the skilled physicians at Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group in Fresno, California, identify the source of your chronic pain, they may recommend a lumbar fusion to strengthen your lower back, provide pain relief, and help you get back to an active life. To learn more about lumbar fusion and whether it’s a good option for you, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

Lumbar Fusion Q & A

What is a lumbar fusion?

When you have a lumbar fusion, your doctor at Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group fuses together two or more vertebrae in your lower back. Connecting the bones stops pain that occurs when they move, strengthens the spine, and restores stability to your lower back.

Though you lose movement between the fused bones, a lumbar fusion seldom limits your overall mobility. In many cases, your ability to move improves because your pre-surgery levels of pain are gone.

What conditions are treated with lumbar fusion?

A lumbar fusion may be the primary treatment for a condition such as scoliosis. In most cases, however, the fusion is performed after a procedure to treat another spine condition, such as:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Facet joint arthritis
  • Lumbar myelopathy
  • Fractured vertebra
  • Spinal infection or tumor

Most of the conditions in this list are first treated with surgery that can cause spinal instability, such as spinal decompression or a discectomy. Then you have the lumbar fusion immediately afterward to restore stability.

What are the different types of lumbar fusions?

The team at Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group has extensive experience performing several fusion techniques, such as:

  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
  • Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF)

The location of the incision makes the difference between these procedures. Each approach has distinct benefits, so your physician recommends the one that’s best for your condition.

What happens during a lumbar fusion?

Whenever possible, the doctors at Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group perform your lumbar fusion using minimally invasive spine surgery. 

This type of surgery uses small incisions and narrow surgical tools that easily fit through one of these incisions. As a result, you experience less trauma, minimal bleeding, and a faster recovery.

During your fusion, your doctor removes the disc between the two vertebrae and replaces it with a bone graft. The graft is the same size as the disc, and it promotes bone growth in the adjacent vertebrae. As both vertebrae grow new bone over the graft, they ultimately form one solid bone.

Your bone graft can come from several sources. Your doctor may take a small piece of bone from somewhere in your body, get a graft from a donor bank, or use a fusion cage. The cage is shaped like your original disc and contains proteins and other substances that accelerate bone growth. 

When you’re still struggling with lower back pain despite medication and physical therapy, call Neurosurgical Associates Medical Group to learn more about lumbar fusion.