Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion Specialist

Advanced Pain Management Center -  - Interventional Pain Management Physician

Advanced Pain Management Center

Interventional Pain Management Physician located in Portland, OR

80% of adults will experience low back pain in their lifetime. Some episodes resolve but others require treatment. Generally, treatments begin with more conservative options such as activity modification, mild analgesics, physical therapy, spinal injections etc... Unfortunately, not always such treatments could be successful and sometimes back and/or leg pain can persist. These problems can potentially become chronic due to lumbar degenerative disease leading to conditions such as intervertebral disc disorders, spinal stenosis, chronic radiculitis and/or spinal instability. People suffering from these ailments frequently experience low back and/or shooting leg pains, numbness, and weakness due to “pinching” of spinal nerves. If you are among the 16 million Americans suffering from chronic pain resulting from a back problem, there is a promising new treatment available. It is a minimally invasive spinal fusion which can be very helpful in relieving symptoms without the need to undergo extensive surgery and prolonged postoperative recovery. At APMC we offer this procedure and see good results in patients who need more advanced treatment to improve their quality of life.

Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion

What is Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion?

The goal of fusion surgery is to stabilize the vertebral bones and spinal joints and/or relieve pressure to the spinal nerves. Traditionally, a fusion is performed by spine surgeons through extensive back surgery that requires general anesthesia. The surgeons drill metal screws into the backbones and there is some trauma to the back ligaments and
muscles. A hospital stay is necessary after this surgery and the recovery takes several months.

As opposed to open spine surgery, minimally invasive surgical approaches can be faster,safer and require less recovery time. Because of the reduced trauma to the muscles and soft tissues (compared to open procedures), the potential benefits are:

  • Better cosmetic results from smaller skin incisions (sometimes as small as several millimeters)
  • It does not require general anesthesia and is usually accomplished with
    combination of local anesthetic injection and intravenous sedation
  • Less blood loss from surgery
  • Reduced risk of muscle damage, since less or no cutting of the muscle is required
  • Reduced risk of infection and postoperative pain
  • Faster recovery from surgery and less rehabilitation required
  • Diminished reliance on pain medications after surgery
  • The surgery is done in ambulatory surgery center and patients go home the same day

Almost all of the surgical treatment options for fusing the spine involve placement of a bone graft between the vertebrae. Bone grafts from a bone bank (allograft) are generally used in minimally invasive techniques. Minimally invasive fusion is performed by doctor placing a small metal device between two backbones, at a place where the spine is narrow or unstable allowing more space for spinal nerves thereby relieving pressure on the spinal structures. The spacer acts as a bridge between two backbones to strengthen and straighten the spine. Subsequent to that, small amount of donor bone is used to promote bony growth at the area ensuring further stability of the treated spinal segment. In medical terms, this is a fusion

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is a good candidate for minimally invasive interspinous lumbar fusion?

A: Good candidates for interspinous process fusion are those with chronic low back and/or leg pain due to lumbar spinal stenosis or degenerative disk disease with or without instability who have not responded to non-surgical treatments such as exercise, activity modification, or steroid injections.

Q: Is this procedure safe?

A: Every surgery comes with a set of inherent risks, and this procedure is no different. However, it is not considered any risker than traditional surgical treatments, and it is generally less risky than other surgical spine procedures by virtue of being minimally invasive.

Q: Who is at risk for spinal problems?

A: There are a number of risk factors that affect your likelihood of developing these conditions. Chief among these is being over the age of 50, having a history of spine injury, and having osteoarthritis or bone disease. Unfortunately, these problems are very common and have to do with aging of the spine as much as any other parts of the body.

Q: What is the success rate of the minimally invasive fusion?

A: In general, patient undergoing this procedure show faster improvement of clinical outcomes compare to open surgical techniques, in a study of 32 elderly patients (average age 69 years), this technique showed promising results. The patient's average pain scores decreased by 73%. These patients could walk better, be more active in their daily tasks, and required fewer medications. There were no complications.

Call Advanced Pain Management Center today to make an appointment. We should be able to evaluate and recommend the most appropriate conservative or surgical treatment for your lumbar spine pain.