Spinal fusion surgery is a procedure which is used to stabilize spinal vertebrae bones. The major aim of spinal fusion is to create a rigid bridge of bone between the vertebrae. Spinal fusion may be suggested to patients when natural disc space has narrowed or the spine has become unstable. When the implant is inserted from the backside to lumbar spine, it is known as a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) or a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery may be performed to treat the following conditions.
- Spinal Curvature Deformity
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Disc Herniation
- Spinal Segmental Instability
- Foraminal Stenosis
- Spinal Stenosis
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion technique (PLIF) is one of the methods for performing spinal fusion surgery. Spinal fusion surgery is the surgical procedure that is used to replace damaged & painful vertebral disc with a bone graft or an artificial implant made of metal or plastic. This surgery helps relieve painful symptoms being caused by vertebral disc through fusing together (‘welding’) two consecutive vertebras in the spinal column in order to restrict movement. Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) technique uses an incision in the back to access spinal column so as to perform spinal fusion procedure.
Spinal problems result from injury to vertebrae, discs or ligaments of the spinal column. The traumatic spinal cord may develop from a sudden blow to the spine that dislocates, fractures, crushes or compresses the vertebrae. Additional damage generally occurs due to swelling, bleeding, inflammation & fluid inflation & around the spinal cord. Non-traumatic spinal cord deformity may also be caused by cancer, arthritis, infections, inflammation, or disc degeneration of the spine. Some other causes include the following.
- Acts of violence
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports & recreation injuries
- Sudden falls
Spinal cord deformities of any type may result in one or more of the following signs & symptoms. When patients notice the following signs, they should consult a spine surgeon.
- Loss of bowel or bladder movement
- Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel cold, heat & touch
- Overly exaggerated reflex activities or spasms
- Sexual dysfunction & infertility
- Intense stinging sensation
- Difficulty coughing or even breathing
- Extreme pressure & severe pain in back, neck or head
- Unknown weakness or incoordination in any portion of the body
- Tingling, numbness or loss of sensation in fingers, feet, hands or toes
- Difficulty with walking & balancing
- Oddly twisted neck or back
When a patient complains of neck pain & has clear signs of weakness or neurological injury, the following diagnostic tests may be recommended by respective spine surgeons.
- Computerized Tomography (CT) scan – CT scan generates images of intrinsic parts of patient’s body. It is able to deliver high precision cross-sectional pictures that can define disc, bone & any kind of problem with spinal cord of the patient.
- X-rays – When patients have spinal cord injury due to trauma, the spine surgeon may suggest X-ray test in order to find out the exact condition. X-rays can determine vertebral fractures, problematic tumors or degenerative changes in patient’s spine.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – During MRI test, images of internally affected areas are produced with the help of strong magnetic field & radio waves. This test can identify herniated discs, blood clots or other health conditions which are responsible for compressing the spinal cord of a patient.
Apart from these diagnostic tests, surgeons will also evaluate complete health level of patients. To avoid any complications in future, spine surgeons will take appropriate measures in terms of providing essential medications & instructing patients to take care of health prior to undergoing posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery.
- Medications – Patients need to discontinue taking aspirin & non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, at least two to three weeks before undergoing posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery. On the day of the appointment, patients must bring a list of their routine medicines to the hospital.
- Quit Smoking – Patients must quit smoking as smoking can make it tough for the patient to recover speedily after surgery. It has been proven clinically that smoking interferes with healing of patient’s bone graft.
- Medical Examination – Spine surgeons may ask the patients to visit the regular family doctor to ensure that they have no health issues which could interfere with spine surgery. Spine surgeons will consult with family doctors to know any specific medical issue the patient may be having. They will also follow health status of patients after surgery.
- Pre-Admission Evaluation & Testing – Spine surgeons may schedule an initial appointment for a health evaluation, which may include the following attributes.
- Health history & total body check-up
- Blood & urine tests
- Anesthesia interview
- Electrocardiogram test
- Patient teaching
- Flexion & Extension spine x-rays or chest x-rays
It is essential for patients to understand the procedure before signing the consent form. Below is a list of certain important questions which may help patients to clear doubts regarding posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery.
- What is posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery?
- Why is this surgery being recommended to me?
- Are there any other options available?
- What are the benefits of posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery in terms of pain relief?
- How long will it take for me to recover fully?
- What are the risks associated with posterior interbody fusion surgery?
- How many years of experience do you hold in performing this surgery?
- What is the success ratio for this surgery?
- Will this surgery solve my health problem?
- Will there be any need for additional surgery in future?
- What percentage of patients derive, complete relief following this surgery?
- What will happen if I do not wish to undergo this surgery now?
- What are the possible after-effects of this surgery?
- What pain control measures will I be given post-surgery?
- What are the restrictions during the recovery period?
- For how long will I need physical therapy?
- When can I go back to work post-surgery?
- Anesthesia – Procedure for posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) surgery involves administering general anesthesia as the first step.
- Incision – Spine surgeon will make a 3 – 6 inches long incision along the midline of the patients’ back & shift lower back muscles from the left & right of the incision from the lamina (outer vertebral covering) of the vertebra. After having clear access to the spine the surgeon performs laminectomy (removal of the lamina) that allows an uninhibited view of the nerve roots in the spinal column. Joints above nerve roots may be scraped to decrease them in size & allow more room for nerve roots. Spine surgeon will then remove the damaged or defective vertebral disc from between vertebrae & clean the space of any debris.
- Bone Graft – Next step involves the spine surgeon placing a bone graft or a ‘spacer’ implant made from metal or plastic to compensate for the removed vertebral disc. This ‘spacer’ allows the spine to maintain original height as well as act as a medium for stabilizing the spinal column. Bone graft or the spacer supports the two consecutive vertebrae until bones of vertebrae naturally fuse together.
Generally, patients have to remain in the hospital for two to three days after posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery. Post-surgery pain control will be attained with the help of IV pain medications or some essential oral pain medications. Usually, patients are released from the hospital on oral pain medications. Spine surgeons usually begin physical therapy walking programs within a couple of days after surgery & a physical therapist may be assigned to the patient who will work with them to teach how to walk safely. The reason behind the physical therapy is that patients should be able to walk comfortably, climb stairs & get in & out of bed smoothly before getting discharged. The ultimate goal of this surgery is to satisfy patients by providing relief from spinal problems.
The success rate for posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) surgery is around 70 – 80 percent due to large advances in lumbar fusion surgical techniques that help prevent damage to nerve roots & also help stabilize the spinal column to relieve painful symptoms of spinal compression. As with any kind of major surgery, PLIF surgery also faces potential risks which are given below.
- Graft site pain
- Recurring symptoms
- Nerve damage
- Blood clots
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is an effective & approved procedure for fusing deformed spine. The primary aim of surgery is to minimize back & neck pain, rectify spinal deformity & improve flexibility in patients. Post-surgical complications may appear but are very rare. According to recent healthcare reports, the majority of patients are happy with pain relief & the outcomes of posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery. It is essential that all patients are psychologically as well as physically prepared. Patients should quit smoking prior to surgery, as smoking is harmful to spine health, potential bone recovery & successful outcomes of surgery. Overall, posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is a highly beneficial procedure for treating spine related problems.
Medical Tourism for Best Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery
In recent times, the world has witnessed a rising number of international patients traveling beyond their borders in search of good quality yet affordable healthcare solutions. According to health reports conducted by top healthcare magazines, about 70 percent of global medical professionals believe the reason for this massive number of medical tourists visiting other countries is the excellent quality of surgeries & other healthcare facilities offered. The main highlight of the global healthcare industry is internationally acclaimed & accredited hospitals that are governed with cutting edge technology & latest state-of-the-art provisions. India along with a few counterparts has been seen as a premier choice for a wide spectrum of medical procedures including spine surgeries like spinal fusion & posterior lumbar interbody fusion, owing to the highly reliable quality of healthcare that is at par with the best in the world.
Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion with Travcure Medical Tourism
Trusted name as a global medical tourism facilitator, Travcure Medical Tourism connects international patients to the best network of medical professionals & internationally accredited multispecialty hospitals providing world-class healthcare facilities. Travcure brings together comprehensive knowledge & professionalism to offer a wide range of medical procedures including spine related treatments & surgeries like posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery. Healthcare experts at Travcure can help international patients access hi-quality posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery in countries like Turkey, Germany, United Arab Emirates, India, & South Korea from highly reputable, accredited healthcare provisions, most often at a fraction of the cost one would have to pay for similar treatments elsewhere. Travcure is committed to successful & safe recovery by providing additional recuperation holiday packages to rejuvenate the patient’s mind & body at exotic destinations around these countries.
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