A minimally invasive lateral spinal fusion is a surgical technique used by spine surgeons. The goal of the procedure is to stabilize your spine, reduce back pain and lessen leg pain. During the procedure, you will be placed on the operating table on your side and you will be taped to the table so that your body doesn’t move during surgery. Your surgeon will access your spine through a small incision in your side to minimize the disruption of the muscle tissue in your back.
Your surgeon will place a special instrument called a retractor into the incision and once he reaches your spine, he will remove the disc between the bones to create a space for fusion to occur. If the disc has collapsed from disease, the bones are moved back into a more normal position. Your surgeon then prepares the area where the disc was removed so that a spinal implant can be placed. After measuring the size of the space, your surgeon inserts an implant made of a strong synthetic material filled with bone graft into the disc space. This implant gives critical support to the spine and aids bone healing. Your surgeon may place additional bone graft or other special material around the implant to stimulate bone growth – which may take several months.
On the back part of your spine, your surgeon will make four small poke-hole incisions, and place screws called pedicle screws into the bones. Connecting rods are inserted into the screws to give your spine extra stability. This holds everything in place as your spine heals. Over time, if the surgery is successful, the bones will grow together, or fuse. Upon healing, you will have one small scar on your side and small scars on your back from your incisions.