Spinal fusion surgery is an effective option for back pain relief. At St. Joseph’s Hospital, our spine surgeons have experience in the latest techniques used for this procedure. In fact, we are the only spine surgery program in the Tampa area that offers oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF), a fusion approach that can lead to faster recoveries.
Spinal Fusion at St. Joseph’s
Our surgeons carefully join the problematic vertebrae into a single bone, choosing from a variety of techniques for the best approach. This stabilizes the vertebrae and reduces the motion causing the pain, while minimizing mobility loss. Fusions are performed for:
Spinal Fusion Innovation: Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLIF)
At St. Joseph’s, our surgeons have experience performing a full range of fusion surgeries. Our comprehensive experience means we use the best approach for your particular lower-back (lumbar) condition:
- Anterior: entering from the front of your body, with the incision in your abdomen
- Posterior: entering from the back of your body, with the incision in your lower back
- Lateral: entering from the side of your body, with the incision in your side
Our newest approach is the oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF), and we are one of the few centers in the Tampa region offering it. The procedure requires a small incision at the back of the pelvis, just above its upper edge. The benefits of OLIF include:
- Less muscle to cut through to reach the vertebrae
- Less risk to nerves and internal organs
- Quicker return home
- Quicker resumption of normal activity
OLIF is a good fit our guiding philosophy: Innovating where appropriate, when it most benefits our patients.
Spinal Fusion: What to Expect
To fuse vertebrae in the lower back (lumbar), our surgeons give you general anesthesia to put you to sleep. They then remove the “disk” that sits between them and normally provides cushioning. We then insert a spacer, or “cage,” which usually contains bone or substitute material to promote healing and bone production. There are several possibilities for this bone graft:
- An autograft taken from your hip
- An allograft from a cadaver
- Manmade materials
If you have pain in both your lower back and your legs, we may also recommend a decompression surgery.
Spinal Fusion: Tools We Use
During fusions, our surgeons may use special instrumentation (medical devices) to keep the surgical area from moving and ensure success. The two types of equipment are generally used:
- Pedicle screws to grab vertebrae
- “Cages” to fill disc space
Other Types of Spinal Fusions
While the OLIF approach represents our latest advance, other established spinal fusion surgeries may provide the best chance to relief your pain. These include:
- Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF): Also called a direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF), this procedure starts with an incision in the abdominal muscles on the side of the body. It avoids cutting the back muscles and can reduce scar tissue, blood loss and surgery length
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF): starts with an abdominal incision
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF): starts with a lower back incision
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF): starts with a lower back incision that is a little more to the side and involves the removal of a facet joint between the vertebrae
For more information or for a physician referral, please call (813) 644-4322.