The Lowdown on Low Back Pain
(and Other Aches)

 

I need a back fusion. Is there a minimally invasive way to do my surgery?

There are several ways to do spinal fusions using minimally invasive techniques.

In general, minimally invasive procedures (or Band-Aid surgeries) use advanced surgical techniques such as endoscopy, minimal incisions, and fluoroscopic guidance. The newest, cutting edge implants, also allow surgeons to accomplish more while doing less surgery.

Lumbar fusions once required up to six hours of surgery, incisions eight or more inches long, and recoveries of four to six months. After surgery, many patients became permanently disabled. Nerve root scarring, common after traditional open fusion surgery, often caused chronic pain.

The newest of the fusion techniques can be used with either anterior (from the front) or posterior (from the back) fusion techniques. Posterior surgery can be completed using the “Pathfinder” hardware system. Introduced just a year ago, the hardware is inserted through two tiny incisions in the back. Dissection around the nerve roots is not needed. Anterior fusion surgery can be done with an endoscope and four small cuts, or with a single tiny incision using special “retractors.” Either Danek “LT cages” or a “Pyramid plate” can be used to secure the vertebra.

The minimally invasive techniques also require much less time under anesthesia. Anterior or posterior operations can both be done in about an hour for a single level. Two level operations take about thirty minutes more. These operations are not for everyone, ask your spine surgeon.

 

 






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Last modified: 07/27/08