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Treatment Options


Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion is another method of fusing the spine. This is a method where instead of accessing the spine in the lumbar region from the back, the spine is rather accessed from the patient’s side. This approach allows the disc to be removed from the side and rather than disrupting the muscles in the back, they are spared. This approach allows a large interbody bone graft and/or interbody plastic cage to be placed that indirectly opens up the spinal canal. This is typically a procedure that is done in the lumbar spine.


This approach is used typically in patients who have degenerative conditions including degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis who have failed conservative measures including physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, and/or spinal injections. It is also an approach that is helpful in patients who have had prior surgery in order to avoid going through the patient’s old incision and scar tissue, this procedure can also be augmented with instrumentation.


The procedure is typically done under general anesthesia. A small incision is made on the patient’s side. The size of the incision varies depending on how many levels are to be treated. The disc is accessed through a minimally invasive technique and the disc is removed. A large cage packed with some synthetic bone is typically placed into the disc to open up the disc space. If needed at this point, a plate and screws are placed on the side and/or the patient is placed on their stomach and screws are put in through the back.


Most patients are typically in the hospital for one or two days. They are up and walking the day after surgery. Their pain is controlled with pain medication and muscle relaxers. Most patients can return to work within two to six weeks after surgery depending on the physical nature of their employment.


As with any surgical procedure, there are inherent risks including anesthesia, bleeding, infection, neurologic injury, spinal fluid leak, incomplete pain relief, and weakness. As with any fusion procedure, there is a risk of the bones not healing. One of the known risk factors for the failure of a fusion is smoking. Patients are highly encouraged to stop smoking before and following their procedure.

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery