If you’ve been struggling with back pain then you know firsthand the impact that the pain can have on your life. Fortunately there are advancements in treating back pain that, after conservative treatments have failed, can help ease your pain and help get you back to living.
The following information is intended to help you understand the anatomy of the spine and the best treatment option for you. Your doctor has recommended you consider lumbar spinal fusion surgery with the Luna XD Interbody Fusion System.
This information should not replace conversations with your doctor. Be sure to consult with your surgeon and/or your primary care physician with any questions or concerns regarding your back pain.
UNDERSTANDING THE SPINE
Between each vertebra, there is a disc that cushions impact, allows for movement, and maintains separation between neighboring vertebrae. Each disc has an outer ring, called the annulus fibrosis, which is made of strong fibers to keep the disc intact. The inner portion of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus or just nucleus. It consists mostly of water and provides much of the cushion needed to absorb the forces exerted on the spine during movement.
The spine is a complex structure of bones and joints surrounded by muscles and supported by soft tissues. The lower back, or lumbar spine, sustains most of the weight for the entire spine. All types of movement of the body are mostly supported by the lumbar spine. Because of constant stress, the structure of the lower back begins to break down with age.
Each vertebra in the spine has a letter and number that refer to its location. If the vertebra is in the lumbar region of the spine, it has an L for its letter and a number that corresponds to its position within the lumbar spine. The numbers begin with 1 (at the top of the lumbar spine) and end with 5 (at the base of the lumbar spine). The bones of the tailbone, or sacrum, have a similar numbering system: S1-S5. The diagram below illustrates the lumbar spine and the sacrum. Luna XD is intended to treat levels from L2 to S1.
The discs between the vertebrae act as shock absorbers within the spine. They also balance forces on the spine caused by movement. Of all connective tissues, spinal discs can undergo the most changes as one ages. Degenerative Disc Disease, or DDD, is a condition that often accompanies aging and is a very common source of low back and neck pain. As DDD progresses, the nucleus of the disc begins to lose its ability to retain water. This causes the disc to dehydrate and decreases the amount of cushion available for absorbing forces from movement. DDD also affects the annulus, which can weaken and tear. The weakened disc can compromise the spine’s natural balance and result in irritated nerves.
Treatment of Lower Back Pain
There are a number of methods to treat lower back pain, including both surgical and non-surgical techniques. Your surgeon will work with you to determine the source of your pain and recommend the most appropriate method of treatment.
Non-surgical treatments include exercise, medications to reduce pain or swelling, injections and behavior modifications. While non-surgical treatments may result in improvement for some patients, others may not improve. In these cases, surgical treatment may be recommended.
Spinal fusion is one form of surgical treatment. It is used to restore lost disc height, remove pressure from nerves and stabilize the spine. After removing the diseased disc, a surgical implant containing bone graft material is placed between two adjacent vertebrae. The bone graft is intended to stimulate bone growth in the disc space, joining the two vertebrae together to eliminate painful motion.
WHAT IS TLIF?
There are various surgical techniques that surgeons use to perform spinal fusion. Your surgeon has elected to use a common and well-established surgical approach known as Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion, or TLIF. The TLIF approach is currently the most common form of fusion surgery in the US and is felt by many surgeons to have consistent positive outcomes. Your surgeon will use a small incision in your back, just off of the midline, to access the disc space. This approach allows a reduced amount of muscle separation and nerve manipulation compared to some other surgical approaches for fusion.
WHAT IS LUNA XD?
The Luna XD implant belongs to a group of products known as interbody devices. The Luna XD device was designed to take the place of a diseased disc during fusion surgery. Your surgeon will remove the diseased disc and insert the Luna XD interbody device in its place to help restore stability and regain any lost height. Special bone graft will be placed into the center of the Luna XD device to promote bone growth between the neighboring vertebrae. This process of growing bone between neighboring vertebrae is called fusion, and is intended to help stop painful movement in the area.
The Luna XD interbody implant is a circular, multi-expandable implant made from a strong, medical-grade polymer called PEEK (polyether ether ketone). Its serrated surface allows the implant to grip bone and keeps it from moving. In addition to the Luna XD implant, your surgeon may use a combination of plates, screws and rods to hold the vertebrae in place and resist movement so that bone growth and fusion may occur.
Your surgeon will choose the implant size that best fits your needs.