When it comes to spine surgery for a herniated lumbar disc, there are two main options to choose from: lumbar disc replacement or lumbar fusion. Without question, lumbar disc replacement is usually the better choice. To help you make an informed decision, here are nine reasons why our orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Stephen Pehler recommends lumbar disc replacement over spinal fusion.
Reason #1: Lumbar Disc Replacement is More Effective
The first and most important reason to choose lumbar disc replacement over spinal fusion is that lumbar disc replacement is simply more effective. Replacing a herniated or degenerative lumbar disc with an artificial disc is a highly successful way to resolve symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Reason #2: Lumbar Disc Replacement Lets You Keep Full Mobility of Your Spine
Patients who undergo fusion surgery have to adjust to changes in the shape and function of their spine, including decreased range of motion. In contrast, patients who get lumbar disc replacement are undergoing a motion-preserving spine surgery, which allows them to retain full natural mobility without any functional changes or adjustments.
Reason #3: Lumbar Disc Replacement is Safe
Lumbar disc replacement surgery is considered a very safe procedure. It has a lower risk of surgical complications, and unlike spinal fusion, it does not put the adjacent spinal segments at greater risk of future damage.
Reason #4: Lumbar Disc Replacement is Outpatient
As an outpatient surgery, patients receiving lumbar disc replacement can return home the same day. This means no lengthy and costly hospital stay.
Reason #5: No Hospital Stay with Lumbar Disc Replacement
Lumbar disc replacement can be performed at an outpatient surgery center instead of at a hospital. This cuts down on the cost of surgery, improves the patient experience, and reduces the risk of hospital-acquired infections.
Reason #6: Lumbar Disc Replacement is Minimally Invasive
Lumbar disc replacement surgery is a minimally invasive procedure, which means the incisions are smaller, there is less tissue damage, and patients heal faster and experience less pain than after spinal fusion.
Reason #7: Faster Recovery with Lumbar Disc Replacement
Lumbar disc replacement surgery has a shorter recovery time than spinal fusion surgery. While both procedures have some downtime, you will have far less pain and can look forward to a more complete and rapid return to daily activities.
Reason #8: Lumbar Disc Replacement is More Affordable
The cost of lumbar disc replacement surgery is typically 20-30% less than the cost of spinal fusion surgery. There are no hospital fees or expensive bone grafts. The quicker recovery often means that you can return sooner to work, which is also a financial help.
Reason #9: Lumbar Disc Replacement has a Better Long-Term Prognosis
Lumbar disc replacement has a better long-term prognosis than spinal fusion. Fusing lumbar vertebrae together often resolves current symptoms, but it puts additional pressure on the adjacent spinal segments which can lead to accelerated degeneration in the future. Insertion of an artificial disc resolves current symptoms without accelerating or increasing the risk of further degeneration.
If you have a degenerative or herniated lumbar disc, consider getting lumbar disc replacement instead of spinal fusion. For many candidates, this is the better choice and will give you the most desirable outcome.
Dr. Stephen Pehler is a board-certified, fellowship-trained, Denver-based orthopedic spine surgeon who regularly performs successful lumbar disc replacements for patients suffering from a herniated or degenerative lumbar disc. To find out whether this treatment is right for you, book your appointment with Dr. Pehler. Call 303-695-6060 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your appointment today.