What is posterior lumbar interbody fusion?

Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a form of traditional open spinal fusion used to treat degenerative spine conditions in the lower back.

Living with the pain of a lumbar spine condition can be detrimental to your quality of life. As time continues and your condition worsens, you may find yourself unable to perform simple daily activities that you used to enjoy. If you have noticed a decrease in your activity due to lower back and leg pain, and conservative treatments are not providing any lasting pain relief, you should consider a spine surgery to help reduce your pain and symptoms.

How is posterior lumbar interbody fusion performed?

When performing a traditional open spine lumbar interbody fusion, the surgeon will make a 3- to 6-inch incision to access the spine. The next step is a laminectomy procedure, during which the surgeon will remove a small portion of the damaged vertebra called the lamina. If there are any bone spurs or growths pressing against the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots, the surgeon will remove them before moving on to the next step.

Next, the surgeon will remove the pressure on the pinched nerve by removing the damaged disc in the spine. Once the disc is removed, there is a large gap in the spine that requires attention. In order to stabilize the spine, the two vertebrae that surround the empty disc space will be fused together using a small metal cage, rods and screws. This fusion will make this particular section of the spine immobile, which will ultimately reduce your range of motion in your lower back.

Because of the highly invasive nature of this procedure, which sometimes includes the temporary detachment of the muscles surrounding the spine, patients are at an increased risk for infection and complications, such as failed back surgery syndrome.

Is there an alternative to lumbar spine fusion?

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive stabilization procedures for the lumbar spine that can help relieve the pain of a degenerative spine condition in the lower back.

Our minimally invasive stabilization surgery allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time,^ higher patient satisfaction rate and lower risk of infection and complication than traditional open back surgery. This is because our procedures are performed through a small incision that does not disrupt the surrounding muscles. Instead of fusing together the spine with a metal cage, our surgeons simply replace the damaged disc with an artificial one and/or use bone grafts from the patient’s own pelvis to help stabilize the spine.

To learn more about Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive spine treatment methods, contact us today to review your CT scan or MRI.

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