About Disc Replacement
Spinal fusion for the management of lumbar degenerative disc disease has been available for several decades. The results of this procedure remain under constant scrutiny and progressive development. Anterior lumbar fusion was initially introduced in the early 1920s. Fibula and iliac struts, femoral rings and dowel, as well as synthetic metallic devices have been applied as fixation implements to aid in lumbar interbody fusion.
Approaches to the spine have experienced similar evolutionary changes. Prior to the 1950s, most anterior lumbar approaches were extensive transperitoneal exposures (i.e. through the membrane lining the walls of the abdominal and pelvic cavities). In 1957, Southwick and Robinson introduced the retroperitoneal approach (i.e., behind the peritoneum).
“As well as synthetic metallic devices have been applied as fixation implements to aid in lumbar interbody fusion”
Transperitoneal exposures (i.e., through the peritoneum) require an incision of both the anterior and posterior peritoneum. In contrast, retroperitoneal exposures maintain the integrity of the peritoneum and approach the spinal column laterally behind the bowel and peritoneal contents. This has the advantage of less post-operative bowel problems.
Additional changes in technique have seen the advent of minimally invasive approaches, including endoscopic and laparoscopic methods. Minimally invasive approaches are generally directed at one or two-level disease processes. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) may be useful in the treatment of unyielding low-back pain.
The cause of this pain is often difficult to diagnose. Broad categories of pathology that may be associated with persistent low-back pain include degenerative disc disease, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis or iatrogenic segmental instability.
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