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Lumbar Fusion

Austin Neurosurgical Institute

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery & Complex Spine Surgery located in Austin, TX

If you have low back pain that doesn’t respond to non-surgical solutions, consider lumbar fusion. This procedure, offered at Austin Neurosurgical Institute by accredited neurological surgeon Thomas Loftus, MD, FAANS, permanently connects two or more vertebrae (bones) in the low spine, creating greater stability and restricting painful movement between them. To find out if lumbar fusion is a procedure that could benefit you, call the Austin, Texas, office or use the online tool to schedule an appointment.

Lumbar Fusion Q&A

What is lumbar fusion?

Lumbar fusion can help when other low back pain treatment approaches fail. The procedure involves fusing together two or more vertebrae into a more stable, single block of bone using bone grafts or other implants. The process mimics how your body typically heals broken bones. 

Lumbar fusion can ease back pain that arises from compressed nerves in your spine. These nerves may be squeezed by a herniated disc or due to squeezing pressure of the discs. 

Who needs lumbar fusion?

Dr. Loftus may recommend lumbar fusion for patients who have severe pain caused by disc herniation. If you’ve been diagnosed with lumbar degenerative disc disease or have lumbar spondylolisthesis, you may also be a candidate.

Lumbar fusion is also a way to treat fractures, scoliosis, deformity, or an unstable spine caused by tumors or infections.

What happens during lumbar fusion?

Lumbar fusion addresses problems in the lower part of the back. Dr. Loftus uses some type of bone material to promote the fusion. He places small pieces of bone into the space between your vertebrae in the affected area. This bone may be taken from your pelvic area or your hip.  

Acquiring the bone does require an additional incision and may add time to your post-surgical recovery. Several artificial bone graft materials may be used as an alternative. These include synthetic bone, like ceramics and proteins that encourage bone formation. Dr. Loftus discusses with you which bone graft option is best for your case.

Your body increases bone cell production in response to your graft, causing the vertebrae to grow together into a solid bone unit.

What is recovery like following lumbar fusion?

You may be required to wear a brace for a while after fusion to hold the vertebrae together and help the fusion process. Internal fixation using screws, plates, or rods sometimes increases stability and your healing. 

Recovery from lumbar spinal fusion takes time. You have to wait several months for the vertebrae to become solid. Pain will diminish relatively quickly, but you need to take precautions when you move, stand, and walk. 

Right after surgery, you’re encouraged to walk as your primary activity. Over time, you can add more vigorous exercise. Physical therapy typically begins around 6-12 weeks after surgery to help you restore and reform your natural movement patterns.

For more information about lumbar fusion, call Austin Neurosurgical Institute for an appointment, or use this website to schedule.