Back pain is a common condition, and the lumbar spine is one of the areas affected most frequently. Lumbar pain can result from a variety of causes. However, a common cause of back pain in this area is a problem with the vertebral discs, such as disc degeneration, a disc tear, or disc herniation.
Disc degeneration refers to the breakdown of the vertebral discs and surrounding area. Disc tears occur when the outer part of the vertebral disc tears. Disc herniations occur when the material on the interior of the disc pushes outside its normal boundaries. Any of these conditions can cause pain, as well as numbness and tingling in the affected extremity.
Problems with lumbar discs may require surgical intervention to obtain satisfactory relief from this pain, typically caused by nerves compressed by the herniated discs, or radiculopathy. One of the treatments available for patients with worn lumbar discs is minimally-invasive axial fusion surgery.
Who is a Candidate for Axial Fusion?
Axial fusion is a relatively new surgical treatment option designed for people suffering with disc problems in the lower lumbar region of the spine. Axial fusion may be recommended for people who have a disc tear, herniation or rupture at the L5-S1 level that is causing considerable pain or other symptoms, and doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments.
It is considered an alternative to traditional fusion surgery, and it is often used for patients who would be good candidates for a traditional fusion but prefer a less invasive approach with fewer complications and a shorter recovery time. However, this procedure may also be particularly helpful for patients who have certain anatomical features that make traditional fusion surgery too difficult or dangerous.
This spine surgery is most often recommended for patients who have exhausted more conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy, prescription medications, nerve blocks and steroid injections. It is not usually recommended for patients with extremely severe disc degeneration that has led to the complete destruction of the disc. This procedure may also be contraindicated in patients who have undergone previous retroperitoneal surgery.
Overview of Axial Fusion Surgery
Axial fusion is a revolutionary treatment option designed to repair worn or damaged discs in the lower back. It is typically performed on the disc that lies between the first sacral vertebra and the last lumbar vertebra.
To perform this procedure, your surgeon makes a small incision next to the tailbone and creates a channel used to access the affected area between the vertebrae. He or she then removes the damaged portions of the disc and replaces them with bone graft material. The surgeon will also fuse the discs to stabilize that area of the spine.
What are the advantages of axial fusion surgery?
Unlike other fusion procedures, an axial fusion will not completely remove the affected disc. When the procedure is completed, the patient’s annulus fibrosus, which is the outer structure of the vertebral disc, will remain mostly intact. Only the damaged portions of the disc will be removed.
In addition, the angle used to access the affected area is designed to minimize damages to the surrounding tissues by eliminating the need for the surgeon to cut through muscles and ligaments. This reduces the pain the patient suffers after the procedure, as well as the amount of time the patient will spend recovering from the surgery. Since this type of fusion is a minimally invasive procedure, it is not as likely to result in significant amounts of bleeding or other complications, such as infection.
Finally, axial fusion surgery takes about an hour on average to perform, whereas traditional fusion surgery typically takes several hours. Likewise, axial fusion requires only one night in the hospital, whereas traditional fusion surgery forces the patient to remain in the hospital for several days following the procedure.
Learn More About Axial Disc Fusion
If you or someone you love is suffering from the symptoms caused by a worn disc in the lower back, axial fusion may be the most effective treatment. However, only a qualified physician can evaluate your case and determine whether this procedure will produce the best outcome.
To learn more about axial fusion surgery or to discuss other options, contact our Neurosurgery and Spine team at NYC Surgical Associates, where we are happy to discuss this and any other options that may pertain to your care. You may contact us at 888-286-6600 or by submitting our online contact form.