This is surgery to fuse, or join, two or more of the bones that make up the lower part of the spine (lumbar vertebrae).
Lumbar spine fusion is surgery to join two or more of the bones that make up the lower part of the spine (lumbar vertebrae). Fusing or joining the vertebrae prevents the bones from moving and putting pressure on other areas of the spine. Prior to joining the vertebrae, the surgeon almost always removes the cushion (disk) between the vertebrae being fused (diskectomy). After the disk is removed, the vertebrae are joined and kept in place using a:
During a lumbar fusion, the surgeon may also perform other surgeries on the lower spine. Some examples include a:
Even without medical treatment, most episodes of back pain will usually go away within six to eight weeks. A lumbar fusion may be recommended if all other treatments have failed for nonspecific low back pain. Failure of all other treatments is indicated by persistent pain that significantly interferes with sleeping, working and other daily activities. Low back pain can happen when one of the bones in the spine moves and slips over the bone (vertebrae) beneath it. This is called spondylolisthesis, which can lead to pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Some other reasons for a spinal fusion include:
If surgery is necessary, prior to the surgery you should tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery. These may include:
If you are a smoker, you should quit. Smoking can interfere with your recovery.
During your surgery, you will receive general anesthesia to keep you comfortable and pain free. With general anesthesia you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear or feel anything. A lumbar fusion usually takes three to four hours. You will spend a few days in the hospital after surgery. It may take from a few weeks to a few months before you are back to your normal activity level.
What should I ask my healthcare provider before having a lumbar fusion?
After your surgery, you should know what you had done, what medication was given, and what symptoms you should report to your healthcare provider after discharge. You should also understand all home care instructions (including medications and side effects) and follow-up plans. Your surgeon should also communicate with your primary care physician.
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