What is lumbar fusion surgery and disc replacement surgery?

The disc replacement surgery is intended to remove the severe back pain experienced by patients and to make normal motion possible for such patients.  In this surgical procedure the damaged disk portions are removed by spine and back doctors and an artificial or synthetic prosthesis is replanted there.

Know about lumbar fusion surgery and disc replacement surgery

It is estimated that about 70 to 80 % of the people suffer from back pain during their life time. But in most cases conservative treatment can change the condition and give relief to the patient. Surgical procedures will be considered by the specialist only when other traditional methods are not yielding any appreciable relief to the patient.

For such patients the lumbar fusion surgery is considered as the most suitable and effective method for controlling the back pain. This process can be considered as something similar to a welding process. The idea behind the process is to fuse together the vertebrae so that they become a single and solid bone. Many people have been well benefitted by lumbar fusion surgeries. But the result can vary and there are some cases where the patients have not got any benefits even after undergoing the painful, time consuming and costly surgery. Disk replacement surgery is the best option for such patients

Disk replacement surgery

The FDA has approved the disk replacement surgery in the year 2004 itself. Form then onwards numerous disk replacement surgeries have been conducted and benefits have been derived. Newer methods and technologies are being invented year after year. More improvements are taking place in the procedure of disk replacing surgeries and many new tools are also being invented to make the procedure more easy.

Are you a candidate for disc replacement?

To determine whether a patient is a suitable candidate for a disk fusion surgery, the surgeon may ask to undergo any or all of the below mentioned tests.

  • Discography
  • MRI scans
  • Computerized tomography
  • X-rays

The information received through these diagnostic tests will be enough for the surgeon to determine the source of the back pain experienced by the patient.

The research and studies conducted in this field has made it clear that disc replacement is not suitable for certain kind of patients. Such cases are discussed below.

  • For patients in whom the back pain was caused as a result of problematic intervertebral disks situated in the lumbar region
  • For patients who do not show facet joint disease or spinal nerve bony compression.
  • Person who are excessively obese
  • For patients who have already undergone serious surgeries in the lumbar region
  • For patients who have deformity of spine known as scoliosis

Surgical procedure

The procedure is  normally completed within 2-3 hours. An incision will be made in the abdomen by the surgeon and he will approach the lower back of the patient. In this approach the blood vessels and the organs have to be removed to the side. This approach allows the surgeon to access spine without any need to remove the nerves. A vascular surgeon usually helps the orthopedic surgeon in opening the disk space and in exposing it. During this process the problematic disc is removed and the prosthesis disk is implanted by him.

Recovery

The patient will be required to stay in the hospital for 1-3 days following the surgery. The length of the stay is dependent upon how well his pain is controlled and how fast your normal functions are returned. The patients will be requested to stand up and walk on the first day itself.
As healing is not required in artificial disk replacement, the patients are asked to start moving as soon as possible. Basic exercises like walking, stretching etc will be encouraged during the first few weeks. During this recovery period the patient will be asked by the doctors for back pain orthopedic not to engage in any provoking activities.