• Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion for Back Pain

    Lateral lumbar interbody fusion is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a damaged intervertebral disc in the lower spine and the placement of bone graft material to fuse two or more vertebrae together. Patients who have been suffering from severe or persistent back pain may choose to consult an orthopaedic surgeon to explore whether this surgery may be an appropriate treatment for them.

    Indications for Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

    An orthopaedic surgeon may recommend this surgery for patients who suffer from chronic lumbar back pain that does not respond to conservative treatments such as physical therapy and medications. In addition to pain, patients may experience numbness or tingling down the legs. These symptoms could be indicative of a herniated disc. Other possible causes of the symptoms that may lead to this surgery include degenerative scoliosis, spinal deformity, and spondylolisthesis.

    Steps in the Procedure

    Before undergoing lateral lumbar interbody fusion, patients should carefully weigh the potential risks of the surgery with the risks of not treating their condition. For example, failure to treat degenerative scoliosis can result in difficulty walking and severe pain. If a patient does decide to have spinal fusion, he or she is first placed under anesthesia. For a lateral lumbar interbody fusion, the orthopaedic surgeon creates two small incisions in the patient’s side. This allows the surgeon to split the psoas muscle to gain access to the spine. This step is performed very carefully with the aid of neuromonitoring to reduce the risk of nerve damage. Then, the orthopaedic surgeon can remove one or more intervertebral discs and place bone graft material between the vertebrae. Along with the bone graft, the surgeon implants a cage or spacer, which keeps the vertebrae in proper alignment while the bones fuse together. Other implants can provide added support, such as screws, plates, or rods.

    Orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Rebecca Kuo of MK Orthopaedics can provide a range of sophisticated back surgeries, including posterior and anterior lumbar fusion to resolve back pain. To find out if you could be a candidate for lumbar fusion, give us a call at (815) 741-6900. An orthopaedic doctor in Joliet will thoroughly evaluate you and help you understand your treatment options.