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Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (also called arthrodesis) surgery, also known as PLIF, is a type of spinal fusion that adheres bone grafts to various areas of the spine. This process allows bone to grow between vertebral spaces in order to provide stability to the spine. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is often performed in the lower back through the insertion of bone grafts ore spinal implants into spaces between the vertebrae where damaged or weakened discs are located.
Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Spine Surgery Procedure
The patient is placed face down on the operating table and given general anesthesia. An incision, often 3 to 6 inches long, is made in the middle of the back and in the erector spinae or lower back muscles. A laminectomy exposes the spinal column and nerve roots to the surgeon. Facet joints, or the bony protrusions of the vertebrae which are located over nerve roots along the back of the spine are exposed and the nerve roots gently retracted, or moved to one side. The surgeon cleans the disk space, removing slivers or spurs of weak or diseased bone, creating a clean space for the bone graft.
A bone graft (most commonly obtained from the hip bone at the crest of the pelvis) is inserted into the newly cleaned disc space and anchored in place with metal screws, are plates, or rods or small pieces of hardware called holds, and the incision is closed. Eventually, the vertebrae will absorb and grow around the bone graft, creating a solid "bridge" in the non-stable disc space.
Following surgery, an individual may be required to wear a body brace, and stay in a hospital for 3 to 7 days for post surgical care. Physical therapy is generally initiated six weeks following the surgical procedure to make sure fusion has occurred. Full recovery may take some individuals up to eight months.
Who Benefits from Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Spine Surgery?
Individuals with the degenerative bone conditions, spinal instability, severe arthritis or osteoporosis or fractured vertebra may benefit from spinal fusion procedures. However, individuals should also be aware that some disadvantages accompany this type of procedure, including possible rejection of the bone graft material by the spine, especially for individuals who are obese or who smoke.
How Much Does Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Spine Surgery Cost?
In the United States, lumbar fusion spine surgeries may cost up to $45,000. This cost may not include hospital care, diagnostics, imaging, medications and fiscal therapy or rehabilitation services, depending on geographic region. However, individuals traveling to foreign destinations such as Mexico, Latin America, and Asia may enjoy between 30% and 50% savings on costs of the same type of procedure, which include all inclusive stays, care, and medical support.
Who Performs Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Spine Surgery?
An orthopedic surgeon may perform spinal fusion procedures, but may also be accompanied an assisted by neurosurgeons, according to an depending on need. Any type of spinal procedure or treatment should be overseen by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in spinal care and spinal surgeries.
Orthopedic surgeons should be certified and experienced in all types of spinal surgeries, including cervical, thoracic and lumbar procedures and techniques, and belong to recognized organizations and associations. Consumers should always verify the experience and training of surgeons, facilities and support staff to ensure proper training and expertise, certification, and accreditation for any suggested procedures or techniques.