TESTS AND PROCEDURES

Spinal Fusion: Anterior Lumbar

August 10, 2018

Spinal Fusion: Anterior Lumbar

Side view of lower back showing lumbar spine.

Fusing vertebrae in the lumbar spine may help ease lower back and leg pain. Anterior lumbar fusion is done through an incision in your stomach area. Depending on how many vertebrae are fused, the surgery may take from 3 to 8 hours.

The fusion procedure

Here is what to expect:

  • An incision is made on one side of your stomach  

  • The disk is removed from between the vertebrae to be fused.

  • A bone, synthetic or metal graft is placed into the now-empty space between the vertebrae. In time, the graft and the bone around it grow into one solid unit.

  • The graft may be held in place with screws or a plate with screws.

  • A drain may be left in the wound for a few days.

  • The incision is closed with sutures or staples.

Cross section of lumbar vertebrae showing disk being removed.

Cross section of lumbar vertebrae showing bone graft between vertebrae.

Cross section of lumbar vertebrae showing fused bone between vertebrae.

The disk between the vertebrae is removed.

A graft is placed into the now-empty space between the vertebrae.

Over several months, the graft and vertebrae fuse into a solid unit.

Updated:  

August 10, 2018

Reviewed By:  

Jasmin, Luc, MD,Sather, Rita, RN