Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a surgical procedure to fuse two spinal vertebrae in an effort to relieve lower back pain. This procedure can be performed to treat the pain caused by a number of different spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, and more. While this procedure was first introduced in the 1920s, it has gained more recent popularity as an effective method for some patients to ease their back pain.
What Is It?
During an ALIF procedure, the surgeon approaches the spine and the vertebrae to be fused through an incision in the abdomen – hence the word anterior in the name of the surgery. Once the disc space has been prepared – often by removing some or all of the disc – the surgeon will insert a dowel or other implant, as well as a bone graft, in order promote fusion between the two vertebrae.
Is ALIF Right for Me?
An ALIF procedure has been shown to be an effective way to help ease lower back pain in certain patients suffering from degenerative disc disease. However, many individuals with spondylolisthesis or spondylolysis may not require surgery and can often ease the symptoms of these conditions through non-surgical methods, such as physical therapy, weight loss, exercise, and more. You should always speak with your doctor before considering any sort of treatment option for your back pain or neck pain, especially if you’re considering surgery as a potential solution.
Minimally Invasive Alternatives
If conservative treatment options have failed to reduce your back or neck pain and you are researching surgical options, you may be considering an ALIF procedure. This surgery requires a long incision into your abdomen and is often performed in conjunction with a posterior approach to the fusion – meaning the surgeon will also approach the spine from the back – in order to fuse both the front and back of the vertebrae and provide more rigid support.
However, if you’re concerned about risk factors and potential lengthy recovery times associated with ALIF or other traditional back surgeries, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about the minimally invasive procedures our orthopedic experts offer. In many cases, our less invasive surgery can be successfully performed with fewer complications, faster recovery time, and less post operative pain while retaining a successful outcome.