A spinal fusion surgery is designed to stop motion at a painful vertebral segment, which in turn should decrease pain generated from the joint.
There are many approaches to lumbar spinal fusion surgery, and all involve the following process:
- Adding bone graft to a segment of the spine
- Setting up a biological response causing the bone graft to grow between the two vertebral elements to create a bone fusion
- The bone fusion – which results in one fixed bone replacing a mobile joint – stops the motion at that joint segment
A lumbar fusion may be the desired treatment for patients with the following conditions, if abnormal and excessive motion at a vertebral segment results in severe pain and inability to function:
- Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
- Lumbar Spondylolisthesis (occuring when spondylolysis weakens one of the vertebrae so much that the bone slips out of place)
Other conditions that may be treated by a spinal fusion surgery include a weak or unstable spine (caused by infections or tumors), fractures, scoliosis, or deformity.