Spine fusion: Some helpful info
A longer hospital stay. Increased blood loss. A prolonged recovery. Those are a few of the negatives associated with traditional spine fusion procedures, and a large part of the reason patients so often seek out top spinal doctors today for minimally invasive spine fusions. These increasingly popular procedures can provide pain relief for back pain sufferers who have exhausted other, more conservative treatments.
“If medicines, physical therapy, and other treatments (like steroid injections) haven’t helped your back pain, this surgery might be an option,” said WebMD. “Doctors usually only recommend it if they know exactly what’s causing the problem.”
Fusions are unique in that a key part of their success lie in their ability to fool the body. “By joining bone with bone graft or other artificial material, the fusion process ‘tricks’ the body into thinking it has a fracture,” said Dr. Mark C. Valente, Board certified and fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon and Founder and Medical Director of DISC Spine Institute, a leader in minimally invasive back treatments and surgical procedures. “Once completed, the spinal fusion process has many effects: new bone grows around the bone graft spacer; the vertebrae join/fuse together; spine stability increases; and pain in the spine area is reduced.”
Fusion procedures can treat a variety of conditions, from instability of the spine (spondylolisthesis or scoliosis), to degenerative disc disease, facet arthritis, and spinal stenosis. There are many different fusion techniques, ranging from Posterior Lumbar Fusion, Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF), Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF), to Direct Lateral Trans-Psoas Fusion (XLIF or LLIF). Each of these approaches can be done either open (traditional approach) or minimally invasive. There are pros and cons to each approach for any individual situation.
Minimally invasive fusion procedures are:
- Less invasive—Thanks to specialized tools, and the specialized skills of top spinal surgeons, Minimally invasive fusions can be performed in just 30 to 90 minutes, and patients are typically able to start walking within hours of waking up, and return to work within four weeks.
- Shorter & less complicated process—“There is less operative time, less anesthesia, and less blood loss with minimally invasive fusion surgeries than with other surgical methods to relieve your back or neck pain,” said Dr. Valente. “Muscle fibers, ligaments, and tendons are meticulously preserved, and there are no sutures (stitches) to remove after.
- Decreased recovery time—Fusions are also commonly performed as outpatient or overnight stays, allowing you to return to work—and to your pain-free lifestyle—faster than a traditional surgery.
Traditional open fusion procedures are:
- More invasive—When compared to a minimally invasive procedure, an open fusion is more invasive. An open procedure requires a bigger incision and muscles will need to be cut so the surgeon can best see and access the impacted area.
- Longer & more involved processes—Due to an open procedure being more medically involved, the procedure itself will naturally take longer.
- Increased recovery time—With more tissue disrupted and a larger incision required, recovery does takes longer.
Advances in technology and specialization by leading spinal surgeons have made minimally invasive surgical procedures like minimally invasive fusions a popular and ever-growing option for back pain sufferers. When it’s time to put an end to your pain, visit DISC Spine Institute, experts in minimally invasive treatments, the most effective medical procedures to treat and eliminate chronic back pain today. Minimally invasive surgical techniques mean treating chronic back pain is easier than ever, with outpatient treatments, small incisions, and a quicker recovery time instead of a long hospital stay.