This procedure is performed to alleviate back and leg pain due to lumbar degenerative disc disease, lumbar stenosis, spondylolisthesis and/or lumbar disc herniations. It is done through the back of the spine and can be done through an open procedure or minimally invasive. With an open procedure a midline incision is made and the muscles are moved aside exposing the bones of the spine. Cutting instruments are used often times removing the spinous processes, portions of the lamina and facet joints in order to decompress the spinal cord and nerves supplying the legs. Commonly, a portion of the disc is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves and to allow space for the interbody cage which takes the place of the removed disc material. The plastic cage is filled with bone graft increasing the chances for fusion of the bones. Screws are then carefully put into the vertebral bodies bilaterally (on both sides) and connected with a rod to help stabilize the bones while they are healing. Hospitalization for 2-5 daysis typically recommended and the patient is required to wear a velcro back brace for walking, sitting and daily activities (it can be removed for sleep and showering). Strenuous activity should be avoided for 6-12 weeks while the bones are fusing.
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