Anterior lumbar fusion is an operation which is done on the anterior (front) region of the spine. The objective of fusion surgery is to help two or more bones firmly combine together into one bone. In order to aid with this objective, the surgeon may use fusion cages which are essentially screws which are filled with bone graft. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion is done in order to remedy a problem disc, disc herniation or other similar problem. This surgery is performed by reaching the spine through the abdomen.
The main concern of the surgeon during the surgery will be the vertebral bodies, and intervertebral discs. The vertebral bodies are the large pieces of bone which make up the vertebrae. The intervertebral discs act as buffers or cushions between each vertebra.
Chapman Neurosurgical Spine Institute Specializes in Spinal Procedures
Anterior lumbar fusion is a somewhat common spinal fusion technique and is sometimes combined with a posterior approach in order to provide stable fixation of the spine. Where the spine itself is still sufficiently stable, anterior lumbar surgery may be sufficient, especially when there is only on level of vertebrae affected. In some cases where stability is questionable, posterior and anterior approaches may be necessary.
During the surgery, the spine is reached by retracting the abdominal muscle and peritoneum (large sack which contains abdominal contents). Anterior fusion surgery is considered superior by some to posterior lumbar surgery due to the fact that the back and nerves are left intact. Another benefit to this surgery is that the bone graft is put under a slight compression due to the placement during the surgery, this allows for a better chance of fusion.