Does Lumbar Fusion Surgery Require Inpatient Rehab?

June 11, 2014

When a patient undergoes endoscopic spinal fusion surgery, he or she must stay in the hospital for at least two days after surgery. The first day, someone from the hospital’s physical therapy staff (PT) will come to get the patient up and walking. It will be determined whether the patient needs a walker. Walking may be painful at first, especially if a bone graft was taken from the hip for the fusion surgery. PT will also show the patient how to perform basic daily tasks, such as getting out of bed, and discuss how to avoid putting stress on the spine after surgery.

On the second day, PT makes sure that the patient is walking independently and makes sure that he or she will be able to function at home. In order for the patient to be discharged, it is important that the patient be able to walk, go up and down stairs, and get in and out of bed independently. Some patients need a cane or walker for a couple weeks after surgery. This will be determined before the patient leaves the hospital.

Patients who have had endoscopic spinal fusion surgery, rather than traditional open spinal fusion surgery, can usually go home on the second day after surgery. Sometimes older or more frail patients have trouble walking or functioning independently after surgery and need extra rehabilitation. Usually the spine surgeon will be able to tell the patient ahead of time if he or she should expect extra rehabilitation after endoscopic spinal fusion surgery. After the surgery, the patient’s doctor, physical therapist, and occupational therapist will work together to determine whether the patient needs extra rehabilitation. Extra rehab can be done either at the patient’s home or at an inpatient rehab facility.