- Leg pain, numbness, and/or weakness
- Back pain, especially with movement
- Bowel or bladder incontinence
Typical X-Ray Findings
- Spondylolisthesis, or slippage of one vertebral body upon another (MRI, CT myelogram).
- Disc and endplate changes suggesting excess “wear and tear” (MRI, CT myelogram).
- Excess movement of one vertebral body upon another when bending forward or backward (Flexion and extension x-rays)
Average Procedure Time
- 2-6 hours, depending on number of levels
Average Recovery Time
- Home in 2-4 days
- Off work 6-8 weeks, depending on duties
- No bending, twisting, lifting, or strenuous exercises (8 weeks)
- No driving while on narcotics
Posterolateral lumbar fusion is one of the oldest and simplest ways to fuse bone. It involves exposing the bony surfaces of the vertebrae that need to be fused, drilling away the hard, outer layer, or cortex ,of the bone, and then packing graft material, consisting of the patient’s own bone, cadaver bone, or synthetic bone, upon the exposed bony surfaces.
Posterolateral lumbar fusion can be a stand-alone procedure, in which case it is called a noninstrumented fusion. Most of the time, however, it is performed in conjunction along with procedures such as Instrumentation, Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF), Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF), or Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF).