What is a Lumbar Spinal Fusion?
A lumbar spinal fusion is performed where the spine is unstable and can’t maintain the functional alignment between all its important structures, or abnormal movements cause pain and put adjacent structures at risk of injury.
The fusion joins two vertebrae together to make one large bone. Dr Parkinson roughens up the external surfaces of the two vertebrae, making the body’s natural repair system think one large bone has broken. Bone is then added to maintain and fill the gap. The body then joins the mass together as in a fracture. It takes about three months for the bones to fuse.
Bone chips taken from the hip during the operation may be used to graft onto the vertebra. Alternatively, bone harvested from other patients and stored in a bone bank until needed may be used. Using the bone bank saves you the pain of this surgery, but the fusion rate is less than using your own bone. Artificial and natural bone substitutes are also available.
New bone from the roughened vertebra migrates along the grafted bone to connect the area to be fused. Bone Morphogenetic Proteins may be used to accelerate the fusion rate.
A lumbar spinal fusion is performed when the spine is unstable and can’t maintain the functional alignment between all of its important structures, or the abnormal movements cause pain and put adjacent structures at risk of injury.
Causes of spinal instability include:
- Degenerative joint disease
The damaged, painful intervertebral disc is removed and replaced with bone. This eventually fuses the two vertebral bodies together into one solid bone.