In this minimally-invasive procedure, performed under general anesthesia, portions of a diseased or damaged disc in the lumbar spine are removed and a device is implanted to secure one or more vertebrae to the sacrum. It is typically used to treat back pain caused by a degenerative disc between the lowest lumbar vertebra (called L5) and the top of the sacrum (called S1).
The patient is anesthetized and placed in a face down position to allow access to the lower back. The area is cleaned and sterilized.
Creating the Incision
The surgeon creates a tiny incision next to the coccyx (the tailbone). The procedure will be performed through this incision, avoiding the need to cut through any major muscles, tendons or nerves.
Accessing the Damaged Disc
Using fluoroscopic guidance, the physician pushes a series of dilation tubes along the tailbone and the front of the sacrum. The physician inserts a drill through the tube and uses it to create a channel through the upper portion of the sacrum, allowing access to the center of the damaged disc.
Clearing the Damaged Disc
Tools are pushed into the disc, and the center of the disc is broken apart and removed through the dilation tube. The hollow center of the disc is then filled with bone growth material.
Stabilizing the Spine
The physician pushes the drill back through the dilation tube and creates a channel into the vertebra above the damaged disc. The 3D Axial rod™ is threaded into the vertebra. As the rod is twisted, it lifts the vertebra, restoring any height that was lost because of the collapsed disc.
After the rod is implanted, the physician may choose to further stabilize the spine by implanting screws through the facet joints or the pedicles of the affected vertebra in a minimally-invasive fashion.
End of Procedure
The instruments are removed, and the incision is closed with sutures. Many patients can leave the hospital the next day.
During the next few months, the bone growth material will cause the vertebra and disc area to fuse to the sacrum. Patients should avoid lifting, bending, or athletic activity for 6 to 12 weeks after the procedure.