How long does a lumbar 360 fusion last? It depends on varying factors. The degree of damage, the number of levels and individual patient issues can effect how long a lumbar 360 fusion lasts. Generally speaking, at the level of fusion it's considered permanent, but other issues need to be considered when predicting how long the benefits will last.
A lumbar 360 fusion is performed when areas in the spine, through wear and tear or trauma, develop excessive movement between segments. This excessive movement causes pain from nerve entrapment and irritation. A lumbar 360 fusion utilizes the bodies ability to heal to fuse the problem area together, thereby stopping the movement and relieving the pain.
Performing a lumbar 360 fusion involves two separate operations performed simultaneously. The first operation involves accessing the front of the spine through a incision in the navel area. The disc is removed and bone fragments are placed in the disc space and left to fuse. The second operation is performed by accessing the back of the spine through an incision on the back. Bone fragments are placed in the spaces between the vertebrae an screws and plates are placed on the spine to hold it secure.
If the healing process proceeds without complications, the bones fuse together and prevent movement, relieving the pain caused by the movement. The problem with predicting how long a lumbar 360 fusion lasts is the lack of long term follow-up on former patients. According to research the long term benefits are good, with only five percent of the follow-up patients needing repeated surgery after ten years.
One reason a lumbar 360 fusion would not last more then a few years is the problem of excessive movement in the surrounding joints. In the spine, each joint should allow a certain amount of movement, the combined movement of each joint adds up to the full range of motion of the spine. By eliminating the motion in a joint the one above and below attempts to compensate for the lack of movement. This causes the same problem as the fused joint had.
If the healing process goes without complications and everything else goes as planned, a lumbar 360 fusion should last at least ten years. Of course, to have benefits for this length of time, the patient has to follow doctors orders relating to rehabilitation and lifestyle changes.