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Anterior Lumbar Fusion Risks and Success Rate in Portland, Oregon

What Are the Risks of Anterior Lumbar Fusion?

There are several risks to the operation of which you should be aware. One of these is that the bone placed between your vertebrae might not fuse and there would be a nonunion of this area. Fusion occurs in over 90% of nonsmokers with anterior lumbar fusion but rates in smokers are decidedly lower. Nonunion, or failure of fusion, can require more surgery.

Infection rates average 1-2% and may require further surgery and antibiotics. Spinal fluid leaks occur in about 1% of cases and may require a longer hospitalization while the leak heals. Nerve damage is rare, averaging less than 1% and is generally limited to one nerve going to one leg and not a cause of paralysis.

Major organ of vessel damage is rare. Dr. Button always uses an experienced general surgeon throughout the surgery to provide exposure and protect major organs.

Finally, in 2–3% of men retrograde ejaculation can result from nerve damage, potentially producing sterility.

What is the Success Rate for Anterior Lumbar Fusion?

Fusion rates in non-smokers are greater than 90%. Over 80% of patients see a significant reduction in their preoperative pain.

When Should You Have an Anterior Lumbar Fusion?

Lumbar fusion is generally an elective surgery. Therefore, it is your choice to proceed based on your current level of discomfort and disability. We recommend that you do not have surgery if you can live with your current level of pain or can make changes in your lifestyle to decrease the pain. If you have made a valiant effort and the pain still persists, surgery may be your next step.

Dr. Button is experienced in anterior lumbar fusion and if you would like to schedule an appointment to discuss this or other procedures further, click here.

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