Lumbar degenerative disc disease diagnosis fusion surgery for an injured worker is usually a last resort after a trial of conservative treatment options. Fusion surgery joins two or more bones into one solid bone. This prevents the bones and joints from moving. The procedure is sometimes done with a discectomy. Mechanical pain is eased because the fusion holds the moving parts steady, so they can’t cause irritation and inflammation. The main types of fusion for degenerative disc problems include anterior lumbar interbody fusion, posterior lumbar fusion and combined fusion. DDD can be aggravated by an on the job accident or DDD can be caused by job duties over time. Expert medical opinion is necessary to prove degenerative disc disease is work-related.
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is done through the abdomen, allowing the surgeon to work on the anterior (front) of the lumbar spine. Removing the disc (discectomy) leaves a space between the pair of vertebrae. This interbody space is filled with a bone graft. One method is to take a graft from the pelvic bone and tamp it into place. Another method involves inserting two hollow titanium screws packed with bone, called fusion cages, into the place where the disc was taken out. The bone graft inside the cages fuses with the adjacent vertebrae, forming one solid bone.
Posterior Lumbar Fusion
A posterior lumbar fusion is done though an incision in the back. In this procedure, the surgeon lays small grafts of bone over the problem vertebrae. Most surgeons will also apply metal plates and screws to hold the vertebrae in place while they heal. This protects the graft so it can heal better and faster.
A combined fusion involves fusing the anterior (front) and posterior (back) surfaces of the problem vertebrae. By locking the vertebrae from the front and back, some surgeons believe the graft stays solid and is prevented from collapsing. Results do show improved fusion of the graft, though patients seem to fare equally well with other methods of fusion.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin McCormick Law Office attorneys represent workers with lumbar fusion surgery for degenerative disc disease in workers compensation claims. The workers compensation benefits available include temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, loss of earning capacity, retraining, and occasionally permanent total disability benefits. The decision to have fusion surgery should be made solely by the injured worker in consultation with his or her health care professionals and family. Workers compensation benefits loss of earning capacity and retraining benefits are based on the nature of any work-related permanent restrictions, not whether there has been a surgical procedure. Next, rehabilitation for degenerative disc disease.