Lumbar Spinal Fusion Specialist

Gary Alegre, MD

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon located in Stockton, CA

Lower back pain is one of the most common causes of disability, and a problem that many adults face sooner than expected. More than 40% of adults aged 18-44 years have ongoing back pain. Fellowship-trained spine surgeon Gary Alegre, MD, in Stockton, California, specializes in procedures proven to alleviate your pain and strengthen your spine, such as a lumbar spinal fusion. To learn if this is an option for your back condition, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

Lumbar Spinal Fusion Q & A

What is lumbar spinal fusion?

Lumbar spinal fusion is a surgical procedure to fuse together two or more vertebrae in your lower back. Fusing the vertebrae eases your pain by stopping movement between the vertebrae. It also restores spinal strength and stability.

Though a lumbar spinal fusion prevents movement, it affects only one small segment. As a result, you still have full mobility overall.

What conditions might need a lumbar spinal fusion?

If you have a deformity like scoliosis, you may need a lumbar spinal fusion as your primary treatment to correct the problem. 

In most cases, Dr. Alegre does a fusion after another procedure to treat spine conditions such as:

  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Radiculopathy
  • Facet joint arthritis
  • Lumbar myelopathy
  • Fractured vertebra
  • Spinal infection or tumor 

Without a lumbar spinal fusion, the procedures used to treat these conditions, such as a spinal decompression or discectomy, can lead to spinal instability.

What are the different types of lumbar spinal fusions?

Dr. Alegre does lumbar spinal fusions using one of the following techniques:

  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)
  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF)

The location of the incision, or the approach to your spine, makes the difference between these procedures. Each approach — posterior, anterior, transforaminal, and lateral — has a specific benefit. Dr. Alegre recommends the best one based on your spine problem. 

What happens during a lumbar spinal fusion?

 During a lumbar fusion, Dr. Alegre removes the disc between two vertebrae and replaces it with a bone graft. The graft promotes bone growth. As the adjoining vertebrae grow new bone over the graft, they meet in the middle and fuse together to form one solid bone. 

Dr. Alegre uses different types of bone grafts. He may take a small piece of bone from another part of your body, or get a living graft from a donor bank. One of today’s most advanced bone grafts, however, is called a fusion cage.

The fusion cage is a device that’s shaped like your natural disc. The cage contains growth factors and other substances that accelerate bone growth just as well or better than a living piece of bone.

In many cases, Dr. Alegre can do your lumbar spinal fusion using minimally invasive surgery. 

To learn if a fusion can do away with your pain, call Gary Alegre, MD, or book an appointment online today.