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Lumbar Fusion

Lumbar Fusion in Cincinnati

Lumbar fusion, also called spinal fusion, is a surgical procedure performed to address problems with the vertebrae, the bones that make up the spine. When motion is the source of a patient’s back pain, a lumbar fusion is performed to fuse several vertebrae together so that they heal into a single bone. This limits motion in that area of the spine with the goal of eliminating the source of the patient’s pain. For many of our patients, lumbar fusion also involves discectomy, which is the removal of the disc between vertebrae. This is known as lumbar interbody fusion.1

Reasons for Lumbar Fusion

For many people with discomfort, pain, or stiffness in their spine, the symptoms may be a result of ligament or muscle strains.  These are often easily relieved with rest, physical therapy, and in some cases, medication such as an anti-inflammatory. However, this injury could be more serious if you are experiencing:

  • Chronic pain associated with numbness
  • Tingling in your limbs
  • Weakness in your legs


Conditions Treated with Lumbar Fusion

Lumbar fusion can help alleviate pain associated with a range of back problems, including:

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The Lumbar Fusion Procedure

Depending on your medical history, the outcome of the diagnostic imaging studies, and your response to non-operative treatments, a lumbar fusion may be recommended. This procedure joins two or more of your vertebrae bony growth. In order to fuse the bones together, a bone graft is required and may be obtained from the patient’s hip, a cadaver, or it may be manufactured.

Aside from the fusion, the surgery may include:

  • Discectomy – The removal of the damaged portion of a disc.
  • Laminectomy – The removal of the posterior portion of a vertebra.
  • The removal of a bone spur or other spinal growth.

Depending on your condition, your surgeon may choose an open fusion surgery or a minimally invasive fusion surgery (MIS).

  • Open Surgery uses an incision large enough to directly view and access your spine. In some cases, an open procedure may be required.  However, it can cause your recovery to take longer and you may have to stay in the hospital longer than if you have an MIS procedure.
  • MIS surgery uses a smaller incision in which a surgeon works through a narrow channel. Because less disruption is caused to your muscles and boney anatomy is preserved, your recovery and hospital stay tend to be shorter than for an open procedure.

Approaches for Lumbar Fusion

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

The posterior approach is most commonly used in lumbar interbody fusion. Here, the surgeon accesses the spine through an incision made in the back. This approach makes it possible for the surgeon to insert a bone graft or synthetic support directly into the disc space between the vertebrae being fused together.2

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

In an anterior approach, lumbar fusion is conducted through an incision in the abdomen. An anterior approach may be used for lumbar fusion if a patient has already had previous spinal surgeries with a posterior approach, and it allows surgeons more direct access to the intervertebral disc than the posterior approach. This approach allows the surgeon to access the lower spine without moving any nerves. This procedure is often assisted by a vascular surgeon, since organs and blood vessels need to be moved.3

Use of Rods to Support the Spinal Column

In addition to the fusion itself, screws and rods, or other implants, may be used to increase the stability of the spinal column. As the body ages, degeneration begins to naturally occur in discs, ligaments, and joints. This can gradually lead to a spinal deformity or cause additional problems. A lumbar fusion can help prevent a spinal deformity from getting worse, or correct it all together.

What to Expect From a Lumbar Fusion

The main goals of a minimally invasive spinal lumbar fusion are to relieve pain and provide improved spinal support. This is done by releasing pinched nerves and providing stability to the lumbar vertebrae. Once the fusion recovery is complete, nerve pain and spinal problems should be things of the past!

Why Beacon Orthopaedics?

The spine surgeons at Beacon Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine have successfully provided relief from lumbar pain to thousands of patients in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Since Beacon Orthopaedics is an independent practice, we are able to adopt new medical technologies quickly, which means our patients have access to best treatment options.

Our spine team takes time to learn your medical history and understand your goals before creating the optimal treatment plan for you. If you are in need of lumbar fusion in Cincinnati, Beacon Orthopaedics should be first on your list. Our team of dedicated professionals will consult with you to decide the best course of action in dealing with your spine pain. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation with a spine expert on our team.

1 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Spinal Fusion. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion/. Accessed July 1, 2021.
2 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/lateral-lumbar-interbody-fusion/. Accessed July 1, 2021.
3 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/anterior-lumbar-interbody-fusion/. Accessed July 1, 2021.
4 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion and Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Available: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/treatment/spinal-fusion-plif-tlif/. Accessed July 1, 2021.