ALIF stands for anterior lumbar interbody fusion. The ALIF procedure is performed to remove a large portion of a degenerated disc that is frequently the source of back pain. It is called an anterior procedure because the spine is approached from the front of the body avoiding potential damage to the low back muscles.
How is an ALIF performed?
At the start of an ALIF an incision is made on the lower abdomen and surgical instruments are used to remove a portion of the degenerated disc. The removed portion is replaced with bone grafting material and adjacent vertebrae fuse to provide support. Part of the disc material is often retained to enclose bone graft implants.
A drill is used to prepare the disc for inserting screw-shaped cages that contain bone graft. The bone graft that is placed in the cages will help new bone grow in and around each cage. The cages are screwed into place between the vertebrae to provide stability while the bone grows in place. Ultimately, your back may not be as flexible after a fusion but may feel more flexible because you can move with less pain.
If you or a family member is suffering from back pain, call and make an appointment with one of our board certified spine surgeons today.