Spine Lumbar

I've damaged several discs in my spine so badly now, they can't repair themselves. I only have replacement or fusion as an option. If I go with the fusion, I know I'll lose some motion there but it will be a solid support. If I go with the fusion, is there any give or shock absorption? Will the implant hold up as well as a fusion?

The natural disc is a miniature shock absorber sitting between two bones (vertebral bodies). The disc keeps the bones apart, absorb and transmit forces passed through the bones to other areas, and help keep proper alignment of the facet (spinal) joints on either side of the spine.




I've had so many friends who had a spinal fusion for disc problems or slipped vertebra. Not one has had any problems. Then my brother had the surgery and it was nothing but problems with infection and kidney failure. We almost lost him. No one seems to know what happened. Maybe it doesn't matter now but I can't help but wonder what really went on in that hospital.

Lumbar spinal fusion has become more popular for degenerative conditions of the spine associated with aging. Studies show that this procedure is both safe and effective. But, as with any operation, there can be complications and problems that develop as a result of the hospitalization, surgery, and all that goes with those two things.




I've seen two surgeons (one orthopedic surgeon, one neurosurgeon) about my back pain. They both agree my problem is something called degenerative spondylolisthesis. What they don't agree on is how to treat it. The orthopedic surgeon thinks my age and general health are against me. The neurosurgeon is willing to operate as soon as it can be scheduled. I don't know which way to go.

Spinal fusion is still a safe and effective procedure for your condition. But based on recent studies, surgeons screen their patients more carefully before suggesting spinal fusion. And patients are more accurate information about what to expect, what could happen, and how likely it is that they might develop complications while in the hospital. This information will help both surgeons and patients weigh the pros and cons, risks and benefits of spinal fusion for this condition.




Artificial Disc Replacement Holds Up Well After Spine Trauma

Artificial disc replacements are gaining in popularity as studies show how well they are working. They are still used primarily for patients with degenerative disc disease, but the number and types of patients with this diagnosis who have benefited continues to expand. For example, younger patients (less than 65 years old) and younger adults with early disc degeneration from trauma or work-related repetitive motions are now getting artificial implants of this type.




Advancing Evidence-Based Spine Surgery

In an ongoing quest to advance evidence-based spine surgery, the authors of this study evaluated a nationally-representative sample of patients undergoing posterior lumbar fusion (PLF). They analyzed the data on over 66,000 patients who had spinal fusion for acquired spondylolisthesis. Complication rates while in the hospital were reported and described.




You know, I haven't had a lick of back pain my entire adult life. Then I had a CT scan for my heart and found out that I have stenosis in my spine. All of a sudden, my back hurts. Is this just in my head? Or can stenosis really cause back pain all of a sudden like that?

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal, the opening where the spinal cord is located. Sometimes people are born with an anatomical variation from what's normal and live with stenosis their whole lives without knowing it.




I saw the radiologist's report on my spine. It said there is a possibility of lumbar stenosis. How does that work? Either I have it or I don't, right?

The lumbar spine from L1 to L5 is a place where changes that occur as we age can cause a narrowing of the spinal canal. The spinal canal where the spinal cord and/or spinal nerve roots travel. This narrowing is called lumbar spinal stenosis.




Just How Common Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis in the U.S.?

Despite the fact that spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) affects a large number of people over age 60, there are still many things about this condition we don't know. For example, when does narrowing of the spinal canal actually become stenosis? Is it when the spinal canal opening is less than 15 mm? 12 mm? 10 mm? Are there certain groups of people more likely to develop stenosis than others? How many people really have this condition anyway?




I had a special operation to fuse my low back called a TLIF. I was warned about all the possible complications but I never once thought anything bad would happen to me. I ended up with too much bone growth in the area of the fusion and mow my nerve pain is worse than before. What are my chances that this will all go away like a bad dream?

The transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) technique is used to avoid the problems that come with entering the spine from the front (anterior approach. Transforaminal means the surgeon gains access to the spine from the back and side. This allows the surgeon to avoid the major blood vessels present in the front (e.g., aorta, vena cava).




Can you tell me which way is better to go with a spine fusion -- bone graft from my hip or the newer bone substitutes? I know there are plusses and minuses with each one. But is one ever recommended over the other?

Spine fusion is usually done as a last resort when conservative (nonoperative) care fails to reduce painful back and/or leg symptoms from degenerative disc disease or chronic disc herniations. Usually, the surgeon removes the disc and either puts a special device in that space (called an interbody spacer) or fills the hole with bone graft material.




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