Lumbar fusion is a common operation performed on the low back for many different reasons. The most common reasons include spinal deformity, spinal arthritis, spinal stenosis, and fractures. There are 3 different surgical approaches to perform a lumbar spinal fusion. The most common approach is through the back or posterior approach. This can be done using standard techniques or minimally invasive techniques. The second approach is through the abdomen or anterior technique. The last approach, which is also the newest technique, is going through the side (love handle region) or lateral approach. This is a minimally invasive surgery we perform through small incisions in the love handle region whereby we can remove disk(s) and fuse a part of the spine without having to make a large incision. It can be performed on most of the lumbar spine and it is used at our discretion depending on the patient’s problem area. It requires less disruption of the tissues.
If you require a lumbar spine fusion for your problem, the lateral approach may be a potential option for you. Surgical decision making is a very complex process and the surgeon has to take into account a lot of different variables. In certain patients, the lateral approach may be a great minimally invasive way to solve the problem.