Designed to be a less invasive way to fuse the spine, lumbar inter-body fusion is generally used for the treatment of back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. When the procedure is performed from the front (anterior) of the spine, a minimally-invasive endoscopic technique may be used.
The disc space is approached through an incision in the abdomen. The damaged disc is partially removed, eliminating the inflammatory proteins within the disc. Temporary spacers are inserted into the empty disc space. This realigns the vertebral bones and lifts pressure from the pinched nerve roots. The surgeon will then replace the spacers with threaded metal cages. The surgeon creates a channel in the vertebral bones to hold the first cage. The cage is packed with bone graft and screwed tightly into the space. The other temporary spacer is removed and a channel is made for the second cage.
The morselized bone graft will grow through and around the implants, forming a bone bridge that connects the vertebral bodies. This solid bone bridge is called a fusion.