Anterior Lumbar Spinal Fusion: My Story

by on December 8th, 2010
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Anterior Lumbar Spinal Fusion is one of the most invasive of the back surgeries being performed today. According to, this is a surgery that creates the conditions for two or more levels of the lumber portion of the spine to fuse together. I had the surgery because the degeneration of the discs in my lower lumbar spine had caused me severe pain for several years. I had no space left between my L5-S1 disc space and very little space in the L4-L5 disc space.

When I had my fusion surgery, they did a multi-level anterior lumbar spinal fusion. This meant that not one, but two levels of disc space would be opened back up. In order to perform this operation, the incision in my belly was 10-12 inches long. Surgeons had to move all of my organs and major blood vessels out of the way in order to open up the space and insert the instrumentation that holds the space while new bone fuses to make the spaces solid.

I was in surgery for almost 5 hours and spent 3 days in the hospital. I don’t remember most of my hospital stay, since I had such a high level of narcotics in my system. In fact, most of the first couple weeks at home are foggy too. I was on so many medications and in so much pain that I was unable to care for my family at all for a solid six weeks. It was another six weeks after that before I was able to send my mother home and take care of my house somewhat. It has been 5 months now and I still have pain, albeit less pain. I cannot run and do the things I could do before I had pain, but this surgery takes up to 18 months for a full recovery.

I have 6 month checkup with the surgeon in February and I think that they are finally going to start me on some physical therapy. Up to this point, my surgeon said that just getting back to taking care of the house was enough physical therapy. I am excited to start building some abdomen muscles back. Strong abdomen muscles are the key to keeping this new back strong.

Mayo Clinic website. 1/29/12.

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