What is Posterolateral Gutter Fusion Surgery?

The posterolateral gutter fusion is considered by many surgeons as the “tried and true” method of spinal fusion. In spinal fusion surgery, the doctor implants either a device or bone material to help re-stabilize the spine. The device is often a type of cage that mimics the build of a damaged disc. In posterolateral gutter fusion surgery, the doctor places an implant at the posterolateral portion of the spine; this area is located along the very outer edges of the spinal structure.

How Does a Surgeon Perform Posterolateral Gutter Fusion Surgery?

The surgeon must first cut an incision that is between three to six inches long for the spinal fusion. If the doctor does not use a titanium implant or cage as the disc replacement, she will instead harvest bone material (commonly referred to as bone graft) from the patient’s pelvis. The bone graft is then placed in the spine’s posterolateral area. In the body, the posterolateral area has more blood flow compared to other parts of the spine. This is to the benefit of the patient, as the blood is what supplies nutrition to help the bone graft grow and stabilize the spine. Back muscles attached to a vertebral extension near the posterolateral area are then raised to apply tension that keeps the bone graft in place.

How Can You Prepare for this Surgery?

Spinal fusion that may mean an extended recovery time – whether at home or in the clinic. Two important lifestyle choices can affect the results of your posterolateral gutter fusion surgery.

  • Limiting Motions: Limited movement can help bone form into place, which means you should avoid any lifting, bending, and twisting for around three months after the surgery. Be mindful that you do not remain completely sedentary, consult with your doctor or physical therapist on what light exercise can assist with your recovery.
  • No Smoking: Nicotine directly harms the bone graft’s ability to form. If you know you are a habitual smoker then you should take steps to prepare for several months without cigarettes. Moving from many cigarettes a day to none can often lead to stressful – and sometimes dangerous – withdrawal effects.

Finding a Spinal Surgeon in New Jersey

Posterolateral gutter fusion surgery is one of the most efficient types of fusion surgery available, but it may not be your only option. Many people with back pain can first try conservative treatments to help relieve their pain under the guidance of a back pain expert. Even if conservative treatments fail, expert spinal surgeons like those at the Spine Institute often recommend minimally invasive surgical methods so you don’t have to spend several days in recovery. For more information on how to best treat your back pain in New Jersey, contact the Spine Institute today.