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What to Expect with Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion Surgery
If you break down the name of this type of back surgery, it’s pretty easy to get an idea of what it is. You might think of it as “fusing the lower back bones together in the least intrusive way possible.” Lumbar fusion is a procedure to grow together a section of spinal bone with bone that is transplanted from elsewhere, to become one strong and healthy bone. Traditionally performed in open surgery requiring a long incision, the minimally invasive technique minimizes cutting and tissue damage to improve patient recovery.
The need for MIS lumbar fusion
Spinal fusion of the lower back is the focus of lumbar surgery. Fusion is also possible with the upper or middle back, called the thoracic spine, but fusion is more common in the lumbar area. The goal of MIS lumbar fusion is to restore stability and strength to the lower back. Spine instability is often a result of trauma, degeneration, deformity or tumor. Lumber fusion may also be needed when the spine becomes unstable after some other medical procedure, such as surgery for a disc problem that renders the spine less stable afterwards.
The description of MIS lumbar fusion
One of the major keys to minimally invasive surgery is the small incision required. Unlike with open surgery, Dr. Fischer of NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City uses special instruments to make the smallest incisions possible to accomplish the lumbar fusion. Another key to MIS is the fact that tubular dilators are used to gain access to the spine with minimal impact to surrounding muscles and tissues. This is extremely valuable to the patient in minimizing pain and recovery time. Other special instruments like fluoroscopes, microscopes and hardware like screws are used during MIS lumbar fusion. All of these things work together to optimally fuse the spine in the least invasive way possible for the patient.
The outcome of MIS lumbar fusion
Patients only stay in the hospital for 1-3 days after MIS surgery. Walking and movement is encouraged very quickly. Pain medications help relieve pain, which is typically much less severe than after open surgery. Some patients opt to wear a back brace for comfort, but it is not usually required. As the body heals, physical activity can be resumed with Dr. Fischer’s guidance and monitoring. Physical therapy is usually an element of successful recovery to increase strength and flexibility. Follow-up visits with Dr. Fischer will ensure that the spine is fusing properly and your road to recovery is progressing as it should. The results of MIS lumbar fusion are generally outstanding. If you are like most patients, you can expect to experience rapid improvement of your back pain and the ability to return to your normal activities without issue.