Orthopedic & Neurologic Surgery of the Spine
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Posterior Lumbar Fusion (PSF)

Posterior Spinal Fusion (PSF) is a surgery aimed at stabilizing the spine and aiding patients suffering from lower back and leg pain, loss of coordination, weakness, and numbness resulting from pressure on the nerves. By carefully removing spurs, cysts, and foreign material that is impinging the spinal nerves, these symptoms can be alleviated or eliminated, helping these patients return to a lifestyle of reduced or no pain. Following your surgery, you may experience some restrictions in activity and have to wear a soft brace or in some cases a hard plastic brace during your recovery period.

The surgery begins with an incision in your back along the spine, followed by removing the material causing your symptoms. A bone graft is then placed in your spine to aid the two adjacent vertebrae in fusing together to form a stable support system in your back. For those patients suffering from severe leg pain, this surgery can be particularly effective, with success rates being very high in relieving this kind of pain. Even better, the time required in the hospital following the surgery is usually quite short, with most patients returning home in just three to five days after the surgery.

If you’re suffering from symptoms of numbness, back and leg pain, or a loss of coordination, contact Dr. Peelle and alert him to your symptoms.


1. What can lead to my physician ordering posterior lumbar fusion?

In cases where lower back and leg symptoms are of such severity that they disable the use of these limbs, and these symptoms have not responded to conservative methods of treatment such as physical therapy and medication, posterior lumbar fusion may be ordered. Most commonly these symptoms result from spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, or recurring herniations of the spinal discs, conditions which can cause mechanical pain and be candidates for this kind of surgery.

2. What will my recovery from posterior lumbar fusion be like?

Following your surgery it will be necessary to adhere to your rehabilitation plan to ensure that you experience the fullest possible recovery. Due to the surgery you may experience spinal pain and weakness in the muscles throughout, and a return to your normal activities should be done slowly to ensure you don’t reinjure your spine. Statistically, improvements will continue for up to two years following your procedure. Frequent and active walking will be encouraged and should begin immediately after you’re discharged. Discuss the details with Dr. Peelle.

3. What risks are associated with posterior lumbar fusion?

All surgeries, however minor, come with a certain degree of risk of complication. Some of the specific complications that can result from posterior lumbar fusion include spinal cord or nerve injury, the fusion failing, infection, blood clots, and hoarseness and swallowing problems that last several weeks. In some cases, pneumonia can result from general anesthesia, and in some cases, a dural tear may result. Dural tears are a leaking of spinal fluid caused by damage to the dura, the tissue that holds the spinal fluid and contains the nerves. Contact Dr. Peelle immediately if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

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