There are certain back pain conditions that will respond to removal and fusion of the lumbar disc. Fusion means that bone or a bone like substance will replace the disc that is no longer functioning and generating back pain.
Spinal fusion will generally involve
- Disc removal
- Placement of a bone graft in the disc space to create new foundation for the vertebral bodies
- Placement of spinal hardware (Screws and plates) to hold things together while the fusion is healing.
Conditions for which spinal fusions can be applied include spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease/ back pain, and trauma. Who is actually a candidate for spinal fusion is a complex decision based on many factors. In general, a fusion will only be recommended when all other means on non-surgical management have been attempted or when there is compression of the nerves in the spine causing weakness/numbness/difficulty
Images of a Spinal Fusion
These are 3-D reconstructions of the lumbar spine showing a L4-5 fusion done with pedicle screws and an interbody graft placed in the L4-5 disc space to replace the degenerated disc that was causing the patient pain.
This is a post operative CAT scan of the lumbar spine showing a L4-5 fusion done anteriorly with a titanium plate/screw construct and an interbody graft placed in the L4-5 disc space to replace the degenerated disc that was causing the patient pain.