Posterior Lumbar Fusion for Deformity Correction in Roseville, CA

Posterior lumbar fusion, also known as arthrodesis, is a surgical procedure performed to join multiple vertebrae into one solid bone. While a small posterior fusion is often used to supplement interbody fusions, posterior fusion is also a technique that is used to address complex deformities of the lumbar spine. The procedure is called a posterior fusion because the surgeon works on the back of the spine.

Reasons for Posterior Lumbar Fusion for Deformity Correction

Spinal deformities can cause progressive pain and disability. There are multiple causes for spinal deformities. Kyphosis and loss of normal contour of the lower back can cause difficulty with standing upright and ambulating, which can result in severe pain and fatigue. Degenerative scoliosis can cause progressive back pain, and severe scoliosis can eventually cause compression of the spinal nerves, resulting in radiating leg and buttock pain.

Ultimately, the decision to pursue surgical correction of a spine deformity is a complex decision that merits discussion between the patient and the surgeon. While these surgeries can achieve huge improvements in quality of life and disability, they are complex surgeries with a prolonged recovery. All patients pursuing surgical corrections of complex deformities should have an informed discussion with their surgeon prior to proceeding.

The Posterior Lumbar Fusion Procedure for Deformity Correction

During the procedure, performed under general anesthesia, the patient is usually face down on a special operating table.

An incision is made on the midline of the lower back to expose the spinal column, and part of the lamina, the bony covering of the spinal canal, is removed. After the spine is exposed, screws are inserted into the vertebrae to stabilize the spine as it fuses. In addition, osteotomies are often performed. An osteotomy is a procedure in which part of the vertebra is resected in order to realign it to its natural position. This is often necessary in the correction of complex kyphotic and scoliotic deformities in adults in order to restore harmonious alignment of the spine

The goals of deformity correction include realigning the spine to its natural position, decompressing the nerves to alleviate radiating buttock and leg pain, and stabilizing the spine with rigid instrumentation to prevent recurrence of the deformity.

Recovery From Posterior Lumber Fusion for Deformity Correction

Recovery is prolonged after deformity correction. It takes 6-9 months to fully heal a large fusion. However, many patients feel significantly better within a few weeks of the surgery. Activity level, including bending and twisting of the back as well as lifting heavy objects, is limited for the first 3 months to allow the spine to heal. A brace is usually utilized for the first 3 months as well to help stabilize the spine as it heals. While the long-term outcomes of spinal deformity corrections are very good, patients always should have an educated discussion with their surgeon to understand the magnitude of the surgery and the length of the recovery.

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