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Spine surgery that helps the body heal itself

“In neurosurgery, I think of a spine operation in two separate pieces,” says David Benglis, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “The first is decompressing the nerves of the spine. That is one of the most important parts. After that, some people don’t need fusions. Some people do.”

Candidates for spinal fusions often have instability in the spine or severely degenerated disks. “Fusion means that we are joining segments of the spine together,” he explains.

Piedmont offers several minimally invasive spinal fusion procedures:

  • Posterolateral Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
  • Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)
  • eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF)
  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

Recovery and Prognosis

Recovery time for these surgeries is typically one to two days in the hospital. For many patients, relief is almost instant. “The legs should feel better after the decompression, which is done on the operating table.”

While screws and rods are used as a temporary solution in these procedures, eventually the body will fuse the spine together itself. “As far as the fusion goes, screws and rods are a temporary fix.

They don’t ever come out of the patient except in rare cases,” says Dr. Benglis. “They are there to bridge the bone until your own body takes over and fuses. For most patients, that can take anywhere from six weeks to three months. In some, even six months to a year.”

Why Choose Piedmont for a Spinal Fusion

“If I were to have spine surgery, I would definitely want to come here,” he says. “There are many reasons, but the main ones are that we have a neuroanesthesiologist, who specializes in spine and brain surgery, in addition to a fellowship-trained spine surgeon. The nursing staff in the operating room and on the floor is excellent and very well-versed in spine care and spine disorders. Also, we have devices like the OR navigation system, which is a CAT scanner in surgery. I know when the patient gets off the table that instrumentation was perfect.”

What Dr. Benglis likes most about his specialty is the fact that it significantly improves a patient’s quality of life. “There is definitely hope for patients with lumbar degenerative disorders,” he says. “I personally love treating these diseases because patients do well. I recommend you come to Piedmont because it’s an excellent facility to treat these disorders.” 

For more information about lumbar spinal fusions at Piedmont, visit the Piedmont Spine Center.

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