Spinal Fusion

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusions use bone grafts to grow individual vertebrae into one bone. As the graft heals, your body conjoins the vertebrae with the graft as the “glue.” Spinal fusions are used to treat a variety of back problems. Minimally invasive spinal fusion is an innovative surgical technique that many patients favor.

ome conditions that can be treated with minimally invasive spinal fusion include:

  • Degenerative disc disease

  • Spinal deformities

  • Spinal stenosis

  • Cancer

  • Life-threatening spinal infections

  • Spine fractures

Dr. Lin will carefully assess your condition to determine whether this procedure is right for you. In some cases, the minimally invasive approach can maximize pain relief while minimizing tough recovery obstacles. This is great for patients who prefer simpler, minimally invasive procedures.

Minimally invasive spinal fusion is different from the posterior and anterior spinal fusion procedures. The biggest difference is the size of the incision. Dr. Lin makes a tiny incision to access your lower spine. He does not have to cut through back muscles to perform this type of fusion.

Many patients who need a simple spine fusion prefer this method. It causes less pain and has less recovery time. Dr. Lin prefers minimally invasive procedures. His goal is to fix the structures of your spine without causing any muscle damage. The minimally invasive spinal fusion procedure accomplishes this while providing lasting lumbar pain relief.

Lumbar Interbody Fusion

There are three approaches to lumbar interbody fusion surgery: anterior, transforaminal, and lateral. Dr. Lin specializes in the anterior and lateral approach.

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion is done through the front of the spine and requires the cooperation of a vascular access surgeon. Once the approach is completed and adequate visualization of the segment is achieved, a discectomy is performed from the front of the spine. The benefit of this approach is it allows excellent visualization of the disc material which translates to more complete removal of the disc material. Once the disc material is removed, the void is filled with a spacer which contains substrates which facilitate bony ingrowth. Lastly, placement of the spacer expands the spine and restores the height of the window in which the nerve exits, which has collapsed due to degenerative changes.

The recovery from this surgery usually takes one to three days in the hospital. Surprisingly, it is better to start moving and walking the day after surgery to avoid stiffness. Dr. Lin will provide a back brace to keep your spine aligned and minimize the strain on your supporting musculature.

After your hospital stay, it will take at least a few weeks for the graft to fully fuse and heal. Dr. Lin advises against heavy lifting and strenuous movement for the first few months after surgery. Your lower back pain should begin to dissipate over these months.

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion is an effective treatment for patients who are suffering from lower back pain. Depending on the exact issues you are having, Dr. Lin may opt for a different type of interbody fusion surgery.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

is a posterior approach. Instead of approaching the vertebrae from the front of your body, Dr. Lin will enter through your back.

Dr. Lin will create a window along the outer aspect of the spine adjacent to the back corner of the disc space and remove disc material from that corner of the spine. Once a void has been created in the disc space he will insert a small spacer by placing it around the nerves and slipping it into the disc space through a small window. Similar to the anterior fusion, the spacer will facilitate bony ingrowth into the disc space which will lead to fusion as well as expand the window for exiting nerve roots.

Lateral Interbody Fusion

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion is the middle ground between the anterior and transforaminal approaches. In lateral lumbar interbody fusion, Dr. Lin enters the vertebral space through the side of your body. He can access the vertebral disc space effectively by working behind your abdomen while avoiding major organs.

The lateral approach is considered minimally invasive and so avoids extensive muscle dissection, while allowing adequate exposure to the disc space to remove disc material and placing in a wide spacer to restore the height of the vertebral segment. This procedure is less invasive than the transforaminal and anterior approach.

Each procedure has pros and cons that Dr. Lin will explain. He will select the best treatment option for your needs.

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