When is Axial Fusion Performed?
Lower back pain is an extremely common condition that can cause severe, ongoing pain as well as a loss of function. If more conservative attempts at treatment fail, surgery may be necessary in some cases. Axial fusion can help treat disc issues in the lower back while providing several important benefits over more invasive types of surgery.
In this blog, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steven Schiebert, who specializes in spine surgery, explains how and when axial fusion is performed.
What is axial fusion?
This cutting-edge surgical procedure – also called an axial lumbar interbody fusion – is performed to treat problems with discs in the lower back. These rubbery pads keep the bones in your spinal column (vertebrae) from rubbing together.
When a disc becomes damaged and pinches nearby spinal nerves, it can be a very painful condition. Axial fusion allows the surgeon to remove part of the damaged disc while preserving its outer wall.
This type of surgery has several advantages over more invasive techniques. It requires only a small incision near the tailbone instead of a larger one. This means you’ll have a lower risk of complications as well as a shorter recovery time, less discomfort, and less trauma to the spine and nearby tissues.
When is an axial fusion performed?
An axial fusion may be an option if you have a disc problem that hasn’t been effectively helped by more conservative, non-surgical forms of treatment. It’s designed to help stabilize a specific area of the spine.
This type of surgery can be used for painful conditions including the following:
- Degenerative disc disease – characterized by the breaking down of spinal discs, which can cause them to become thinner and less flexible or develop tears or cracks.
- Spondylolisthesis (slipped or herniated disc) – A disc that bulges, splits, or ruptures, which allows its inner jelly substance to put pressure on a nerve or the spinal cord.
- Instability between lumbar and sacral sections of the spine – The lumbar section is in the lower back and the sacral section connects to and forms part of the pelvis. Instability occurs when there is too much movement between the vertebrae.
What is involved with an axial fusion?
Your surgeon will make a small incision near your tailbone. The inner part of the damaged disc is removed while the outer wall is preserved, as are nearby muscles and ligaments. Hardware is then inserted to restore disc height as well as alignment.
Since the surgery corrects the underlying problem, it improves your lower back function and alleviates pain in a specific area. Recovery is faster and easier than it is with more invasive types of spinal surgery.
If you’re experiencing back pain, make an appointment today with New Jersey Spine Surgeons. Our experienced spine specialists will diagnose the cause of your pain and recommend the most conservative treatment possible to help provide you with long-term relief and improved mobility.