“For the past 35 years or so, I was pretty much in constant pain. I had spinal injections. They would last for a couple of days. The injections wouldn’t get rid of the pain, but they would make it a little more bearable.”
“Then the effect (of the injections) would wear off, and I could barely get to work. I’d come home, and I would have to prop myself in a certain angle just until I could go to sleep and try to deal with the pain. And when your back hurts, as people who have back pain know, it affects everything.”
What is Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery?
The surgical procedure that finally liberated Robert from his pain was a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). The surgery is performed to treat an array of back problems including:
PLIF is aimed at stopping the motion between two spinal vertebrae causing pain. It is typically performed around the L4-L5 or L5-S1 area at the lower base of the spine. A bone graft is inserted between two vertebrae, and custom-made screws, rods and spacers, or cages, may be used to stabilize the spine and allow the vertebrae to heal and fuse together.
Traditionally, interbody fusion was performed as open surgery requiring larger incisions and the need to cut through whole muscle tissue to enable the surgeon to access the spine. By contrast, minimally-invasive interbody fusion employs a tiny tube which is threaded through the muscle fibers with a smaller surgical incision. Specially-designed surgical tools are then used to complete the surgery via the tube, averting scarring and muscle damage.
Minimally-invasive interbody fusion surgery promotes:
- Faster recovery
- Less tissue retraction
- Decreased blood loss and pain
- Enhanced fusion
- Reduced hospital stays