The purpose of a spinal fusion is to permanently mend two or more bones of the spine together. A minimally invasive spinal fusion uses a smaller incision than a traditional spinal fusion surgery, making it a safer option with a shorter recovery period. Patients with the following conditions may benefit from a minimally invasive spinal fusion:
- Spinal stenosis
- Degenerative disc disease
- A spinal column tumor
- A spinal column infection
These conditions often cause extreme back pain. If conservative treatments such as pain medications, steroid injections, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy do not relieve the pain, a spinal fusion may be recommended.
Preparing for a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion
Dr. Shanti will educate any patient who has scheduled a minimally invasive spinal fusion of what to do in order to prepare for the procedure. He will let them know if they need stop taking blood thinners or any other medications in advance.
It’s likely that he will encourage smokers to try to quit. He will also tell all patients to refrain from eating or drinking after the midnight prior to their surgery. In addition, Dr. Shanti may suggest an MRI or another imaging test.
What to Expect During a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion
A minimally invasive spinal fusion will be performed under general anesthesia so that patients do not feel any pain or discomfort during the surgery. Once the anesthesia has been administered, Dr. Shanti will make a small incision on the patient’s back or side. Using special medical tools, he will dilate the patient’s back muscles in order to push them out of the way.
He will then place bone or synthetic bone material in the space between the patient’s vertebrae. Next, Dr. Shanti will use special screws to anchor the patient’s bone in place. Lastly, he will close the incision. Some patients will find that their back pain significantly decreases immediately after their surgery while others will find that it takes longer for their pain to fade away.
Recovering from a Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion
After a minimally invasive lumbar fusion, patients may experience some pain near their incision. Fortunately, this pain can be easily relieved with pain medications. Patients can usually resume to their normal activities and diet quickly. It’s important to note that anyone who has undergone this procedure needs to keep their spine in proper alignment. They should engage in low-impact activities initially and slowly increase their activity level as they heal.