What is posterior lumbar interbody fusion?

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

Living with the pain of a lumbar spine condition can have a negative impact on 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 the relief you deserve, spine surgery can become a serious consideration. In more severe cases, a surgical specialist may recommend a spinal fusion surgery, such as a PLIF.

How is posterior lumbar interbody fusion performed?

When performing a traditional open spine posterior 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 severely damaged disc in the spine. In order to stabilize the now empty disc space, the two vertebrae will be fused together using a small metal cage, rods and screws. The fusion will make this particular section of the spine immobile, which will ultimately reduce the 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 can typically expect a multiple night hospital stay and risk of complications such as infection and failed back surgery syndrome.

Minimally invasive stabilization as an alternative to traditional PLIF

At Laser Spine Institute, we perform minimally invasive stabilization procedures for the lumbar spine that are an outpatient alternative to traditional open spinal fusion surgery.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery offers our patients no lengthy recovery and a lower risk of infection and complication compared to traditional open spine procedures.^ This is because they are performed with muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a small incision and an outpatient procedure. One of our minimally invasive stabilization procedures is a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, or TLIF, which is performed on an outpatient basis and can help patients who may have been recommended to undergo a traditional open spine PLIF. To learn more about Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive spine treatment methods, contact us today.

When you speak with a member of our caring team, ask how you can receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.