Lateral Interbody Fusion

Home | Treatments | Lateral Interbody Fusion

Stabilizing the Lumbar Spine

Lateral interbody fusion is a minimally invasive spine surgery for patients suffering from severe lower back pain because of nerve compression in the lumbar region. The procedure involves the surgical removal of the damaged and herniated spinal discs responsible for nerve compression, following which bone grafts and implants are used to fuse two adjacent vertebrae. Bone grafts facilitate natural bone regeneration, and rods, spacers, and cages stabilize the lumbar spine.

The term “lateral” refers to the location of the incision — the surgeon makes a small incision on the patient’s side to avoid disrupting the abdomen muscles. Your surgeon will recommend this procedure if you have severe nerve compression or symptoms of myelopathy, a spinal cord dysfunction that leads to the loss of mobility, loss of bladder control, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling sensations, and the possibility of paralysis.

Dr. Kakoulides only performs minimally invasive spine surgeries that involve one or two small incisions on targeted locations, thus minimizing the need for complex surgical reconstruction. Furthermore, he only recommends surgery if all conservative solutions (physical therapy, chiropractic care, and injections) fail to yield the desired results or if you display neurologic symptoms of severe nerve compression. A lumbar interbody fusion removes the damaged components of the spine and restores optimal spinal stability.

Situations When Lateral Interbody Fusion is Needed

Lateral interbody fusion is meant for patients suffering from severe spinal disorders that cause nerve compression in the lumbar (lower back) region. Degenerative scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, and disc herniation are the most common examples of spinal disorders responsible for lumbar nerve compression and myelopathy. To understand how lateral interbody fusion addresses these problems, you need to understand the spinal anatomy.

The spinal column consists of 33 vertebrae, and the lumbar (lower back) region consists of 5 vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated by soft, cushion-like intervertebral discs that absorb the shock and friction of spinal movements. The spinal column protects the spinal cord, which branches out into thousands of nerve roots that send neurologic signals to different parts of the body.

Conditions like scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, and disc herniation reduce the space between the vertebrae, leading to nerve compression and the symptoms of radiculopathy. If the nerves in the lumbar region are severely compressed, you experience radiating pain in your legs, numbness, muscle weakness, imbalance problems, loss of mobility, loss of bladder control, and other neurologic symptoms, necessitating surgical intervention.

Lateral interbody fusion is only necessary for situations with severe nerve compression or if all other conservative solutions fail. Dr. Kakoulides starts your treatment with physical therapy, chiropractic care, and other non-surgical solutions, and lateral interbody fusion is only attempted as a last resort.

Lateral Interbody Fusion: Benefits

  • Performed as a minimally invasive procedure
  • Only involves a few small incisions
  • Avoids abdominal muscle disruption
  • Removes the damaged spinal discs
  • Alleviates symptoms of nerve compression
  • Bone grafts facilitate natural bone regeneration and healing
  • Implants and spaces stabilize the lumbar spine
  • Involves minimal downtime and recovery period

Lateral Interbody Fusion: Your Journey

Dr. Kakoulides performs later interbody fusion as a minimally invasive spine surgery under general anesthesia. During the procedure, he makes a small incision on your sides or flanks, following which separates the soft tissues to access the lumbar spine. Using specialized instruments, Dr. Kakoulides removes the damaged spinal discs, following which surgical implants (rods, cages, plates, and screws) are used to fuse and stabilize the lumbar spine.

Dr. Kakoulides also places bone grafts within the spinal canal to facilitate natural bone regeneration and healing. The bone graft can be drawn from another part of the patent’s body, another individual, or synthetic sources. The surgical implants stabilize the lumbar spine, whereas the bone grafts facilitate spinal fusion and connect adjacent vertebrae. This procedure involves minimal downtime, and most patients return home within a day or two.