Spinal fusion Summary

The lumbar spinal fusion procedure is used to unite two vertebrate together in order to eliminate motion or friction between them. Lumbar spinal fusion is used to treat a number of conditions including degenerated disk, slipped disk, herniated disk, scoliosis or injury. It is done only when conventional treatments have failed to alleviate pain.

This surgery may be done alone or in conjunction with other spinal surgeries. There are a variety of techniques used to complete the procedure based on the type of damage being repaired. Patients who have this procedure are asleep and feel no pain.

Length of the procedure:  3 to 4 hours

Hospital Stay:  Patients are hospitalized an average of 3 to 4 days following a lumbar spinal fusion.

Recovery before traveling home:  Patients seeking a lumbar spinal fusion through medical tourism can return home within 5 to 7 days.

Travel Tip:  Most professionals recommend that you wait about a week to travel when you seek a lumbar spinal fusion through medical tourism. After the procedure immobility and pain are two things you need to consider. It is best to find a comfortable, handicap accessible hotel and travel when you are beginning to feel a little better.

Procedure Details

Your surgery begins with the administration of general anesthesia. You will lie face down on the operating table so that your surgeon will have access to your spine. The spinal area will be prepped with a sterile drape and an antiseptic liquid.

The surgeon will make an incision to expose the spine. They will move muscle and tissue aside. If another procedure is being done simultaneously they will perform the other procedure first in most cases. Then, they will use a graft to hold the bones together.

Different methods of bone grafts used in spinal fusion:

  • Bone graft strips are placed over the affected area of the spine
  • Bone graft is placed between the two affected vertebrate
  • Cages of graft material is placed between the affected vertebrate

Different bone graft materials used in lumbar spinal fusion:

  • Pelvis bone
  • Donor bone
  • Synthetic bone

After the graft is placed the surgeon may use a cage, screws or plates to hold it in place. These things ensure that the vertebrate stay in place until they are fully healed. The surgeon will close the muscle and tissue upon completion of the spinal fusion.

After the Procedure

After the procedure you will be taken to recovery. You will be monitored carefully until you recover from anesthesia. The surgeon will prescribe pain medication so that you are comfortable. In the first few days following your procedure your spine needs to remain in the correct position. This helps ensure proper alignment. In some cases you will be fed with an IV for 2 to 3 days. You may also have a drainage tube for the first 2- 3 days.

During your hospital stay the staff will teach you how to sit, stand and walk while you are healing. This will ensure you do not injure yourself or delay the healing process. You will also wear a back brace or cast during and after your hospital stay.


Lumbar spinal fusion is quite effective. In fact, most patients who have the procedure achieve full or partial relief from their symptoms. However, it is important to note that patients who have spinal fusion may develop problems in other areas of their back over time.

Risks and Complications

As is with any surgery there are risks associated with having a lumbar spinal fusion. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Infection
  • Blood Clots
  • Breathing problems
  • Blood loss
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Reaction to anesthesia or medication
  • Damage of the spinal nerve
  • Weakness
  • Loss of sensation
  • Bowel and Bladder problems
  • Back problems

Contact your physician if:

  • Fever above 101 degrees or chills
  • Pain increases
  • Drainage from incision is green, yellow or foul smelling
  • Numbness in arms develops or change in feeling of arms, legs or feet occurs
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath occurs
  • Swelling develops
  • Back pain worsens and is not subsided by rest or medication
  • Bowel or urination problems develop