A lumbar vertebral body replacement involves replacing the affected area with a small metal cage filled with bone graft material, which is then screwed into the adjacent healthy vertebrae.
Patients who need this surgery typically suffer from spine fractures involving the vertebral body in the lumbar spine (lower back). The spine fracture can cause pressure on the spinal nerves, resulting in pain. Severe fractures are unstable and often require surgery to remove and replace the damaged vertebra and stabilize the spine.
An incision is usually made on the left side of the upper abdomen to approach the spine from the front. Surgical instruments are used to remove the fractured bone and adjacent discs, alleviating pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
A metal cage is filled with bone graft material that will help new bone grow in and around the cage. The metal cage with the graft is then positioned to replace the vertebral body and discs that have been removed.
Screws are placed through plates in the adjacent healthy vertebrae. The screws are connected with metal rods that are attached to the metal cage to provide support and stability while the bone grows in place.
The incision is closed and dressed to complete the surgery. A brace may be required for a period of time after the procedure during the 3-6 months it takes for the bone graft to fuse the vertebrae, restoring stability to the spine.