Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Interbody Fusion

Interbody fusion is one of the most effective methods of achieving fusion. To place bone graft and fusion implants in to the area between two vertebral. Bone grafts is facilitate bony healing. The purpose of the implant is to separate and hold the two vertebrae apart, which eventually increases the opening around the nerve roots and relieves pressure on the nerves. In addition the implant restores proper alignment and corrects spinal deformity. The implant can be placed from the front, back, or side, depending on the anatomy of the patient and the amount of pressure around the nerves in the spinal canal. 

Front placing of the implant to the lumbar spine is called Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF). In some cases, a plate or screws can be used in the front to ensure stability. 

Back placing of the implant to the lumbar spine is called Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) or a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF). To support the back, a series of screws and rods may are used. 

Side placing of the implant to the lumbar spine is called a Lateral Interbody Fusion (LIF).

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

This Spinal Fusion technique is used to stabilize the vertebrae or spinal bones. The aim of lumbar fusion is to create a bridge of bone between two or more vertebrae. When the spine is unstable, or the natural disc space has decreased, spinal fusion is recommended. Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion or ALIF is an another effective method for fusing the lumbar spine. This surgery decreases pain, improves stability and corrects spinal deformity, to relieve pain. Before undergoing ALIF, the patient must be physically and psychologically prepared. Patients should stop smoking prior to surgery because highly detrimental to your spine health, and bone healing.

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) Surgery Procedure

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion or ALIF, done under general anesthesia. Requires the patient to lie on a special surgical bed. The surgery begins with a 3 to 5  to the center or slightly to the side of the stomach. While the procedure is performed, large blood vessels are carefully moved aside. Once a window to see the spine is created, the damaged disc is safely removed. Following cleaning of the disc space, bony spaces for fusion make room for the bone graft by spreading the bones apart. This enlarges the openings to relieve pressure from any pinched nerves and realigns the bones to create proper curvature. The implant, filled with bone graft, is now placed in the empty disc space. The bone graft fuse the two bones together, as body heals. Successful surgery means the vertebrae will move as one unit.

In some cases, ALIF surgery is followed by Posterior Instrumented Fusion (PIF). PIF is required to stabilize and ensure fusion. The bone strength is measured by a DEXA scan to determine if a plate on the front of the lumbar spine can support the fusion. Therefore, additional stability is required. 

Post Operative Hospital Care

Patients usually remain in the hospital one to three days after surgery. Postoperative pain control can be achieved using IV pain medication or oral pain medicines. Patients can start a physical therapy walking program the day after surgery. A physical therapist teaches the patient how to get out of bed, and walk, and climb stairs safely.