What Is Spinal Fusion?

Chronic lower back pain is often due to an underlying lumbar spine condition. Conditions like spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or spondylolisthesis can cause severe nerve pain and discomfort. A spinal surgeon may suggest posterior lumbar interbody fusion if conservative treatment fails. Spinal surgery raises several questions and concerns. Understanding what happens can help patients be more prepared and have a smooth surgery.

3 Things to Know Before Your FESS surgery

PLIF surgery

Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) aims to create one solid bone in the lower spine to eliminate pain and stiffness. The surgery removes a damaged disc and any nearby bone, then inserts material in the vacant space. The material triggers a biological response, allowing bone to grow between 2 vertebral elements. In addition, the new fused bone stops the motion, reducing nerve irritation. PLIF is done by inserting a cage made of allograft bone or synthetic material into the disc space.

How is it done?

With PLIF surgery, the surgeon makes minimally invasive incisions on the patient’s back to access the spine. Before then, the patient assumes a face-down position, and an anesthesiologist will administer general anesthesia. The surgeon will make 2 incisions and retract the paraspinal muscles, or the muscles access the spine. Afterward, the surgeon will remove any abnormal bone or disc material and install a disc cage between the vertebral bodies. The enclosure contains a bone graft or synthetic material. Screws and rods will then hold the cage and bones in place. The surgeon ends the procedure by repositioning any muscles and tissue before closing the incisions.

Prepping for surgery

A successful PLIF requires the patient to take added steps to prepare the body and mind for surgery. The surgeon will recommend additional tasks to limit complications and improve the outcomes. For instance, patients should stop smoking to improve postoperative healing. Discontinuing supplements and medication like aspirin can prevent excess blood loss. Doctors will also suggest a healthy diet and simple exercises several weeks before surgery to help with recovery. PLIF can limit movement, especially in the first 2 weeks post-surgery. Make sure to prepare the house and any facilities at home in advance for easier use.

Potential risks and complications

Studies show that PLIF rate as high success rates. However, there is still a risk that the spine will not obtain solid fusion, called non-union. Patients at higher risk for non-union include those with prior spine surgery, smokers, obesity, and previous radiation therapy for cancer. While rare, other possible complications of PLIF are infection, nerve damage, and bleeding.

Your recovery period

Because the surgical team uses minimally invasive techniques, the patient can leave the same day. Patients must combine rest, pain management, and physical therapy to get back to regular activity. This process can take up to 3 months. Patients should not drive, perform office or manual labor during the initial stages, or play sports. Only after the doctor confirms the fusion, which can take 3-6 months, can a patient return to everyday activities. However, the bone needs to mature and solidify for 12-18 months.

Information is power

PLIF is a type of spinal fusion surgery with a long recovery timeline that can seem complicated. Therefore, patients should get as much information about the surgery as possible before proceeding. The surgery removes damaged discs and bones, allowing the bones to fuse into one piece. Patients should be prepared before and after surgery. Asking the right questions can improve the chances of a smooth procedure.

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“Experience was amazing. The nurses my son needed at this time couldn’t have been chosen any more perfect. They were supportive and understanding, patient and just great human beings.THANK YOU KINDLY ”
“Everyone was friendly and concerned about my comfort. They frequently asked how I was doing, or if I needed something.”
“The nurses were very nice and caring!”
“Dr. Best…is the best!”

“I liked that it was so clean. Every staff member was pleasant and easy to talk with.”

“All staff were wonderful.”

“All staff were wonderful.”

“The STAFF from the moment you walk in were the nicest people I’ve encountered at a medical facility.”
“Dr. Tupper was amazing! He spent time explaining exactly what he was doing, what I would experience and made sure I was comfortable.”
“NO wait time, RN Rebecca answered all questions prior to my visit by phone and again answered all questions and concerns while prepping me.”
“Everyone was friendly and concerned about my comfort. They frequently asked how I was doing, or if I needed something.”

“Everyone was concerned with my comfort.”

“Rebecca was amazing. I have always had trouble in the past with getting an IV started. I told Rebecca I was concerned about it. She got it on the 1st try – no digging in my arm and NO bruising the next day.”

“The staff was great, especially Mary and Marcia. Marcia was extremely helpful post-op and made sure I was comfortable and well-cared for.”

“The STAFF from the moment you walk in were the nicest people I’ve encountered at a medical facility.”
“The nurses were very nice and caring!”

“Entire staff was knowledgeable and courteous. They genuinely cared for my well being and made sure my wife and I were taken care of.”

“Efficiency of the staff. Courteous, friendly and caring attitude. Excellent office staff. Pleasant surroundings.”
“The staff was very polite, they were excellent. They explained exactly what was going on.”
“Experience was amazing. The nurses my son needed at this time couldn’t have been chosen any more perfect. They were supportive and understanding, patient and just great human beings.THANK YOU KINDLY ”

“The staff was great, especially Mary and Marcia. Marcia was extremely helpful post-op and made sure I was comfortable and well-cared for.”

“Entire staff was knowledgeable and courteous. They genuinely cared for my well being and made sure my wife and I were taken care of.”

“NO wait time, RN Rebecca answered all questions prior to my visit by phone and again answered all questions and concerns while prepping me.”
“Dr. Best…is the best!”

“Amazing nurses, very caring and friendly and put both me and my son at ease.”

“Everyone was friendly and the place was very clean.”

“I can’t say enough about Marcia and the entire team. The care I received was well beyond anything I could have expected.”

“Dr. Tupper was amazing! He spent time explaining exactly what he was doing, what I would experience and made sure I was comfortable.”

“Marcia and staff were excellent and genuinely cared for my well being. Wish I could have taken them home.”

“Incredibly professional, friendly and confidence of knowing their roles as healthcare employees. Excellent!”
“Dr. Dedhia made everything clear and even scheduled an early follow-up appt so I could get back to work sooner.”
“No severe pain – Just a little discomfort – I was asked several times during procedure if I was OK – they showed genuine concern for my well being.”

“Everyone was friendly and the place was very clean.”

“I liked that it was so clean. Every staff member was pleasant and easy to talk with.”

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