Patients with chronic lumbar pain may be recommended the anterior lumbar interbody fusion, or ALIF. ALIF is a surgical procedure that includes the fusion of two spinal vertebrae, offering increased stabilization and the lessening of pain. This procedure is used as a treatment option for many spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. ALIF is one of the oldest surgical procedures still used in the treatment of lower back pain.
What is it?
During an ALIF procedure, the patient is placed on his or her back, and the surgeon approaches the surgery through the patient’s abdomen. After creating space to access the spine, the surgeon will then remove the necessary disc and bone material, creating a space for a box or cage to be inserted around the vertebral bodies. Once the disc space has been prepared the surgeon will insert rods and screw to hold the vertebrae in place. Surgeons may then also include compounds, such as a bone graft, in order to promote fusion between the two vertebrae.
Is ALIF right for me?
ALIF has been proven historically as a treatment for lumbar pain. However, before electing to undergo any surgery, patients should exhaust all other alternative options, as well as conduct research surrounding alternative surgical procedures. 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 and stretching.
Minimally invasive alternatives
Traditional open back procedures are often accompanied by a large incision and months of postoperative recovery. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive alternatives, which are more effective while placing less stress on the patient’s body.
Laser Spine Institute offers an alternative to ALIF called lateral lumbar interbody fusion, or LLIF. This procedure is conducted through small incisions on the side of the body. LLIF also avoids separating the low back muscles, cutting bone or moving aside blood vessels as required for ALIF. LLIF can offer stability for many patients, with the benefit of a minimally invasive procedure.
For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute today to discuss your options with a Spine Care Consultant.