When you have back or neck pain that isn't responding to non-surgical treatments, spinal fusion might be the answer. Fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon Ashraf Guirgues, MD, and the team at Carolinas Center for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery specialize in performing spinal fusion using minimally invasive techniques and robotic surgery. They use advanced tissue-sparing approaches that few other practices offer, including lateral lumbar interbody fusion to relieve chronic back pain. Find out if you could benefit from the team's expertise by calling the Morehead City, Swansboro, or Jacksonville, North Carolina, location, or use the online booking form today.
Spinal fusion is a well-established approach to treating several common causes of back or neck pain. It involves fusing vertebrae so they form a single, rigid piece of bone, which stops excessive or painful movement in your spine.
To perform spinal fusion, the Carolinas Center for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery team inserts a bone graft between two vertebrae. This graft could be from your body (autograft), a donor (allograft), or be artificial. The graft stimulates the growth of new bone, permanently fusing your vertebrae.
Fusing vertebrae in this way stops you from being able to move the treated part of your spine so freely. However, your back or neck pain improves so significantly that overall, your mobility should be much greater.
You might need spinal fusion to address conditions of your cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back) such as:
For a great many patients, non-surgical treatments like physical therapy, medication, and activity modification resolve their back or neck pain satisfactorily. There are also options like epidural steroid injections and radiofrequency ablation for more persistent cases.
Only when these methods aren't achieving the symptom relief you need would the team at Carolinas Center for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery perform spinal fusion.
The first stage of the spinal fusion process is for the Carolinas Center for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery team to remove damaged disc material and other excess tissues. Next, they insert the bone graft.
The technique the team uses to perform your spinal fusion depends on the reason for your surgery and factors like your age, weight, and general health. They typically use minimally invasive spine surgery methods for most patients and almost always use robotic surgery for lumbar spinal fusion.
They also specialize in using a technique called lateral lumbar interbody fusion, which is also known as extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) or direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF).
In a lateral lumbar interbody fusion procedure, your surgeon enters your body through your side or flank.
The advantage of lateral lumbar interbody fusion is that your surgeon can access your spine without damaging your back muscles or nerves. This makes it a very effective method that's the most minimally invasive option. It's also a method that few spinal surgeons specialize in.
Cervical spinal fusion (arthrodesis) is a surgery that joins selected bones in the neck (cervical spine). There are different methods of doing a cervical spinal fusion:
This procedure can be done through an incision on the front (anterior) or back (posterior) of the neck.
Cervical spinal fusion may be done:
Often spinal fusion is needed to keep the spine stable after injury, infection, or a tumour.
When symptoms such as numbness or weakness in the arm suggest that a neck problem is causing a pinched nerve (radiculopathy), surgery may help you feel better faster. But it's not clear that surgery is any better than non-surgical treatment in the long run. And research also suggests that a complex surgery that includes fusion is not better than a simpler surgery to take the pressure off the nerve.
If you have neck pain alone, with no signs of a pinched nerve, neck surgery will not help.
To find out more about relief of chronic back or neck pain and your options for spinal fusion, call Carolinas Center for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery today or book an appointment online.