Spinal fusion is a surgical technique which is utilized to stabilize the spine in general. Goal of spinal lumbar fusion is to create a strong bridge of bone between vertebrae. Doctors commonly recommend spinal fusion surgery for patients whose natural disc space has either decreased or when the spine is unstable.
Interbody fusion technique generally involves placement of intervertebral implants & bone grafts into areas in-between a couple of vertebral discs. This is an effective method of achieving fusion which has proven to be successful over time. Intervertebral implants are made from a variety of materials including plastic, metal or bones. Bone grafts & bone healing protein are placed within implant & within interbody space. This is meant to encourage healing aspect of bones. Fusion implants usually help by separating & holding vertebrae apart. Eventually, this will also increase openings around nerve roots at that particular level & also relieve pressure on nerves as well.
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is commonly performed to treat the following conditions.
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Spinal Curvature Deformity
- Herniated Discs
- Spinal Curvature Deformities
- Spinal Stenosis
- Spinal Segmental Instability
PLIF surgery procedure can either be performed through the conventional open incision or through a minimally invasive procedure, normally depending upon the patient & the condition which is to be treated. Typically performed under the influence of general anesthesia, PLIF surgery patients would generally sleep throughout the operation. Moreover, patients will also lie face down upon a special surgical table during PLIF surgery as this procedure is typically performed through an incision which is made on the back of the patient. However, length of incision for PLIF surgery normally depends upon the number of levels which require treatment.
There are many options for bone graft materials which can be used with PLIF surgery including locally harvested bone for the patient, called autograft bone. These bones may either come as a combination from areas of spine operated upon or from the hip bone of the patient. Moreover, bone grafts can also come from donated bones which are subsequently prepared. These types of bone grafts are called allograft bone.
Patients usually remain within hospital for 2 – 4 days following PLIF surgery. Control over postoperative pain during this time will be achieved through IV pain medications and/or orally administered pain tablets. Patients are usually discharged to go home when they are on oral pain medications. PLIF surgery patients will begin physical therapy walking programs on the following day post surgery. Physical therapists will also teach them how to come out of bed & walk safely. PLIF patients will also need to be comfortably getting in & out of bed, walk around & climb stairs before going home from the hospital. Lastly, surgeons would like to ensure that the urinary & gastrointestinal systems of PLIF surgery patients are working properly. PLIF patients must also be able to tolerate normal foods & to urinate without any difficulty before being discharged from the hospital.
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