What is a lumbar fusion?

I was rear-ended while I was sitting at a red stoplight by a car that didn’t stop and now my doctor says that I need a lumbar fusion. What is a lumbar fusion?

A lumbar fusion is necessary when one of the lower 5 spinal disks has been pushed out of place enabling the bones to rub against each other. This will cause discomfort and extreme pain in the lower back; it could also cause your legs to feel weak, numb and tingly.

There are two different types of lumbar fusions that vary depending on the location of the incision.

  1. A posterior lumbar fusion is when the surgeon operates by going through the back.
  2. An anterior lumbar fusion is when the surgeon operates by going through the front.

For the fusion to take place your surgeon will need a bone fragment, that can come from either your hip our can be gotten through a bone bank. This bone fragment will be used to make sure that the vertebrae are separated properly. Once your surgeon has the necessary bone fragment, they will remove the disk that is causing problems and replace it with the fragment. Then the surgeon will screw a metal plate into the vertebra to make sure the fragment stays in place and then fuse the vertebrae bones together.