Spinal disorders have become a common cause of concern these days. Spine plays a vital role in supporting the entire body structure. It is responsible for providing stability to body by absorbing shocks during any strenuous physical activity. A healthy spine is essential to perform basic routine tasks such as bending, running and twisting in a smooth manner. A fluid enclosing spinal column known as cerebrospinal fluid acts as a protective layer and helps in maintaining spinal flexibility. Spine may become highly unstable and reach a debilitating back condition when this fluid wears away due to any injury or disease.
Spinal fusion surgery can be explained as a clinical procedure which is implemented to combine two or more spinal vertebrae to restrict range of movement between them that causes back pain. Its basic concept is derived from a welding procedure which joins two components. Likewise, it welds bones of spinal column and stabilizes the spine to a greater extent. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is a medical intervention which is designed to treat lower back pain. This operation is performed by making a cut in patient’s abdomen. Spine surgeons access patient’s spine from front side and fuse the problematic spinal vertebrae carefully to provide relief from intense back pain.
Patients who are experiencing the following health issues are best candidates for undergoing ALIF surgery.
Lower Back Pain – Patients who have tried all traditional non-surgical approaches such as medicines, injections, physical exercises, and braces to treat harsh lower back pain and failed to attain desired outcomes may opt for this procedure.
Spondylolisthesis – This condition arises due to sliding of one bone over the other in vertebra. Patients struggling with this spinal disorder can consider an ALIF surgery.
In addition to this, patients willing to undergo an ALIF must possess an overall sound health status and should not have a history of different abdominal surgeries.
In most instances, nerve root compression is the primary cause of lower back pain. Spine surgeons may recommend the enumerated imaging scan tests to figure out precise cause of disabling pain and determine the eligibility of patients for undergoing an ALIF surgery.
Computed Tomography Scan – CT scans can easily produce high-resolution images of internal bones and surrounding spinal structures. It enables a spine surgeon to check the exact underlying situation.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan – This scan utilizes magnetic fields and radio waves to find out the unrevealed spinal problems. Outcomes of an MRI scan can significantly help in surgical planning.
Nerve Conduction Study – This test is performed by giving a nerve sheath injection to patients. It allows spine surgeons to thoroughly evaluate the problematic spinal nerves.
Nuclear Medicine Bone Scan – In rare instances, bone pain might result from spine cancer. This procedure is mostly carried out when cancer of spine is suspected.
ALIF surgery hardly takes a couple of hours for its completion and can be performed with the help of given steps.
Making An Incision – An incision is made at abdominal site to access the desired spinal vertebrae.
Removal of Disc – At first, spine surgeons take out the intervertebral disc and place a bone graft material in between them. This material helps in connecting or fusing the trouble causing vertebrae smoothly.
Screws And Plates – Surgeons join the vertebrae carefully and use screws and plate to hold them in an apt position.
Closing Incision – Surgeons close the incision at the end and monitor patients for few hours to minimize post-surgical barriers.
ALIF surgery is a fairly safe procedure. However, it carries the risk of following complications which can be successfully avoided by choosing an experienced spine surgeon well-trained in performing an ALIF surgery.
• Significant scarring
• Drug allergies
• Wound breakdown
• Failure to fusion
• Nerve damage
• Severe chest infection
• Urinary tract infections
• Heart attack or stroke
Patients may require staying in health care center for a day or two following an ALIF surgery. Respective spine surgeons may suggest an intake of pain-controlling medicines to help them get rid of uneasiness following a surgical procedure. Braces may also be suggested to reduce the risk of dislocation of spine during the recovery phase. In addition to this, they should abstain from smoking as it causes various complications. Patients will need to attend physical therapy sessions strictly to aid a faster healing. In this way, they can attain a smooth recovery within a few months.
The following are the major benefits that patients can achieve by undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery.
• Less post-operative pain
• Relief from back pain
• Medication reduction
• Prevents deterioration of spine
• Enhances lower back functions
• Maximizes quality of life
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