About Lumbar Fusion
This information is intended for general information only and should not be considered as medical advice on the part of Health-Tourism.com. Any decision on medical treatments, after-care or recovery should be done solely upon proper consultation and advice of a qualified physician.
What is Lumbar Fusion?
Lumbar Fusion is a surgical procedure commonly performed as a treatment for low back pain due to injury, spinal abnormalities or disc degeneration.
How is Lumbar Fusion Performed?
In this procedure, a piece of bone is grafted from another part of the body to the spinal area to reduce friction between the bones. An incision is made in the lower back and the tissues are dissected to reach the bone. Retractors are used to keep the tissues away from the spinal bone. Holes are then drilled into the vertebra through the pedicles. Metal screws are then placed in these holes. Then a posterolateral fusion or an interbody fusion is performed to place the grafts in position.
How to Prepare for Lumbar Fusion?
- The patient should inform the doctor about any ailments, medical conditions and medication that the patient may be taking.
- The patient should not smoke for several days before the surgery.
- Two weeks prior to the surgery, the doctor may stop certain medication that the patient may be taking.
- The doctor may advise patients undergoing a lumbar spine fusion surgery to take Fleets enema the night before the surgery.
- The patient may need to give the following tests and examinations:
- Physical examination
- Blood and urine tests
- Anesthesia interview
Duration of procedure/surgery : 2 to 6 hours
Days admitted : 2 to 5 days
Anesthesia : General anesthesia
Recovery : - The patient is taken to the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) or a recovery room to recover from the effects of anesthesia.
- The patient’s vital signs are monitored during this period.
- The patient’s wound dressing, circulation and movement of toes and legs are also checked.
- The day after the surgery, most patients will be able to get out of the bed and are encouraged to move around with assistance.
- Some patients may need to undergo rehabilitation after being discharged.
- Arrangement for a visiting nurse and a therapist may be done for patients who do not require rehabilitation and can return home.
Risks : The risks involved in lumbar fusion are:
- Vertebral bone infection
- Spinal nerve damage
- No relief from pain
- Problem in the spinal column that is above and below the area of lumbar spine fusion
- Bowel or bladder dysfunction
- Sexual dysfunction
- Leakage of cerebrospinal fluid
- Injury to other organs and blood vessels
General risks involved in any surgery include:
- Breathing problems
- Blood clot
- Adverse reaction to medication and anesthesia
After care : - Patients may sleep on their backs with pillows placed under the neck and knees. Alternatively, they may lie on their sides with knees bent slightly, and a pillow placed between the knees.
- Bending over should be avoided or minimized.
- Driving and doing light activities should be avoided for one to two weeks after surgery.
- Short walks every day is recommended to speed up recovery and reduce pain.
- Patients with a sedentary job may return to work in one to two weeks after surgery. However, patients with strenuous jobs may need to avoid working for two to four months.
The doctor should be contacted if the following symptoms occur:
- Redness, swelling and bleeding from the incision
- If staples or stitches come off
- Severe pain in the legs, back and backside
- Urinating inability
- No control over bowels or bladder
- Swelling, redness and pain in one of the legs
- Inability to move legs
- Severe headache
- Chest pain and breathing difficulty
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