Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a spine surgery that involves approaching the spine from the front of the body to remove disc or bone material from in between two adjacent lumbar vertebrae. The procedure may be performed either as an open surgery or using minimally invasive techniques.
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a spine surgery that involves approaching the spine from the front (anterior) of the body to remove all or part of a herniated disc from in between two adjacent vertebrae (interbody) in the lower back (lumbar spine), then fusing, or joining together, the vertebrae on either side of the remaining disc space using bone graft or bone graft substitute.
The graft material acts as a binding medium and also helps maintain normal disc height – as the body heals, the vertebral bone and bone graft eventually grow together and stabilize the spine. Instrumentation, such as rods, screws, plates, cages, hooks and wire also may be used to create an “internal cast” to support the vertebral structure during the healing process.
Depending on your condition and your surgeon’s training, experience and preferred methodology, an ALIF may be done alone or in conjunction with another spinal fusion approach. Please discuss your fusion approach options thoroughly with your doctor, and rely on his or her judgment about which is most appropriate for your particular condition.
For an ALIF procedure, the patient is positioned on his or her back and sedated under general anesthesia. The surgeon then:
Surgeons typically perform an ALIF as a traditional, open procedure as described above; however, another option is to access the spine using minimally invasive (endoscopic) technologies that allow surgeons to reach the affected vertebrae through small incisions and intramuscular tunnels created to accommodate special guidance, illumination and surgical tools.