The anterior approach to the lumbar spine allows access to the intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine through a small incision in the patient’s belly (abdomen).
This approach avoids the dissection of muscles, bone structures and nerves that one would find going through the back (posterior approach). Hence, the risk of damaging these structures is less with the anterior approach.
The advantages of the anterior approach is that it allows an excellent exposure of the lumbar spine. This allows introducing large interbody cages and artificial discs with a much larger surface area compared to those introduced with the posterior approach.
The retroperitoneal anterior approach is a minimally invasive spine surgery, as all the structures contained in the peritoneal sac (intestines, organs, etc.) are bypassed. Therefore, the patient’s post-operative recovery time is usually very fast. The patient resumes walking the same day of surgery and can go home (hospital discharge) usually just 2 days after the surgery.
Dr. Morgenstern has been trained in Germany to perform anterior spine surgery. This new surgical technique complements the endoscopic and percutaneous surgical techniques and helps us avoiding other invasive surgeries of the lumbar spine.
One of the most popular cases of a successful surgery performed through a previous approach is the case of the golfer Tiger Woods, champion of the Augusta Masters 2019. He returned to playing as pro-golfer successfully after having undergone an operation on the lumbar spine through an anterior route in the USA.
Dr. Morgenstern has been trained in Germany to perform this intervention. This new technique complements the other interventions already described and allows to avoid large approaches, dissections and fixation of the lumbar spine.
In cases of degenerative disc disease (DDD) the interbody discs between two vertebrae loses height progressively until finally collapsing. This degenerative process often causes intensive pain in the lower back and buttock area. Disc height collapse can also lead to foraminal stenosis. In foramina stenosis the bony structures surrounding the exiting nerve roots collapse and impinge the nerve roots, causing sciatic pain that radiates down the leg.
The disc height can now be restored using an interbody cage placed by the anterior approach. After surgery the patient usually resumes walking the same day and hospital discharge within two days after surgery. It is indicated for acute and chronic low back pain with or without radicular leg pain.
Low back pain and radiating leg pain usually are relieved immediately or in less than 24 hours after surgery.