Surgery to fuse the lumbar spine

Surgery to fuse the lumbar spine

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Credit: JOHN T. ALESI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Surgery to fuse the lumbar spine. Sequence of artworks of an operation to replace an intervertebral disc with an implant. This procedure, taking place in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine, is known as an anterior lumbar discectomy. At upper left is the L4-L5 joint seen from the front, with the surgical incision being made. At upper right, the sagittal view shows disc removal. After smoothing of the vertebral endplates, an interbody cage (of a cylindrical screw design) and bone grafts are inserted into the space (lower left). At lower right, the final stage is to fix screws and a plate to support the spine, plus more bone grafting.

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