What Is An ALIF?
An ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) is a type of spinal fusion procedure used to treat conditions of the lumbar spine. This procedure uses an approach from the abdominal area to access the spinal disc and is often chosen when the height of the spinal disc(s) is dramatically reduced due to a degenerative disc condition.
The goal of this procedure is to remove the spinal disc and/or bone spurs that are causing irritation of the spinal nerves and use internal fixation to stabilize the spine and relieve the pain associated with degenerative spinal conditions.
How is an ALIF Performed?
First, an incision is made on one side of the abdominal area and the abdominal muscles are retracted to the side. With this form of spinal fusion, muscles are not cut or dissected and surgical tools and implants are slipped between or around the muscles.
The entire spinal disc and/or any bone material that may be causing nerve compression are then removed to reduce impingement on the targeted nerve roots.
An implant is placed into the space where the spinal disc once was in an effort to restore the normal height of the spinal disc space. This implant will also contain bone graft that triggers a biological response, which, over time, will knit together with the vertebrae above and below and form one continuous stable vertebrae.
Next, a small metal plate screws are implanted to join the two adjoining vertebrae and ensure stability. The incision is then closed with small stitches.