Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, abbreviated ALIF, is a type of lumbar (lower back) spine surgery. The procedure involves approaching the lumbar spine from the front (anterior) of the patient's body, removing a disc, and implanting one or more interbody devices (such as cages) packed with bone graft.
Between the vertebral bodies
Bone graft and spinal instrumentation
An incision is made in the patient's abdomen and the abdominal contents are gently retracted (moved aside) to gain access to the front of the spine. Sometimes, this part of the surgery is performed by a vascular or general surgeon who is more familiar with abdominal anatomy.
The spine surgeon separates the muscle fibers instead of cutting through them. A discectomy is performed, and one or two interbody devices (such as cages) are filled with bone graft and implanted in the empty disc space. More bone graft is packed around the interbody device.
A metal plate may be placed over the interbody device and bone graft to provide spinal stability. The plate is affixed to the vertebral bodies using special screws. Further, the plate holds the bone graft in place. ALIF is often combined with posterior fusion (performed from the back of the spine) using pedicle screws. Posterior fusion provides additional spinal support and stability.
Spine surgery is an important decision. While the final decision is yours to make, the benefits and potentials risks and complications require careful consideration. We look forward to answering your questions and helping you to resolve your concerns about any treatment offered by Piedmont Spine Center.