What is an ALIF Procedure?

ALIF stands for anterior lumbar interbody fusion. The ALIF procedure is one of several different methods of spinal fusion. During spinal fusion surgery, a surgeon fuses two or more vertebrae together using a bone graft. The bone tissue of these vertebrae will continue to grow and permanently lock together. Spinal fusion limits the movement of the spine, which can help to relieve back pain. In fact, while the spine may not be as flexible as it was prior to the surgery, patients often remark that they feel more flexible being able to move without pain. 

So, since there are several different types of spinal fusion surgeries, how does a surgeon decide which is best for each patient? Surgeons take the location of the problem, the cause, and the individual patient into consideration when deciding which method is best. 

An ALIF procedure is most commonly performed to remove a portion of the degenerated disc that is causing the patient back pain. Keep reading to discover how an ALIF procedure is performed.

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How Is an ALIF Procedure Performed?

To begin, an incision is made on the lower abdomen. Then, your surgeon will use surgical instruments to remove a portion of the degenerated disc that is causing pain. A drill is used to prepare the disc for inserting screw-shaped cages that contain a bone graft to replace the removed portion. The bone graft that is placed in the cages will help new bone growth in and around each cage. The cages are screwed into place between the vertebrae to provide stability while the bone grows in place. 

The ultimate goal of this procedure is to obtain a solid union between two or more vertebrae to relieve pain.

This post should not be taken as professional medical advice. If you or a loved one is suffering from back pain, we urge you to seek professional medical help. Use the Find a Doctor tab on our website to find a board-certified surgeon at Nebraska Spine Hospital.