Q:

Is it best to go through the front or back for lumbar spine fusion surgery?

A:

Quick Answer

Going through the back is less invasive than going through the front for lumbar spine fusion surgery, so it is best for many spinal conditions, according to The Longstreet Clinic. Going through the front is necessary for more severe problems with the vertebrae, notes the USC Center for Spinal Surgery.

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Full Answer

Surgery from the back is known as posterior lumbar fusion, and it is primarily done for spine problems like lumbar instability, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease, according to The Longstreet Clinic. These conditions cause problems that include nerve pain in the legs, numbness in the lower extremities and back pain. Normally, several non-surgical treatments are attempted before lumbar fusion is done.

Surgery from the front is known as anterior lumbar fusion, and it is the best option when multiple vertebrae are fused and several discs need removal, as the USC Center for Spinal Surgery explains. It is often done in conjunction with posterior surgery for adding additional pins or screws or when decompression is needed. It is often used for single fusions as well when no additional posterior surgery is needed. The anterior approach involves moving aside major blood vessels and the intestines, but it has less risk of causing nerve damage than does the posterior approach.

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