Anterior lumbar interbody fusion

If you have been diagnosed with chronic lower back (lumbar) pain, anterior lumbar interbody fusion may be recommended. This procedure is used as a treatment option for many spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, and spondylolisthesis. Like other forms of spinal fusion, anterior lumbar interbody fusion can stabilize the spine and reduce lower back pain.

What is it?

During an anterior lumbar interbody fusion procedure, the patient is placed on his or her back and the surgeon approaches the surgery through a 3- to 5-inch incision in the patient’s abdomen. After creating space to access the spine, the surgeon will then remove the diseased disc and bone material, creating a space for a box or cage to be inserted around the vertebrae. Once the disc has been removed, the surgeon will insert rods and screws to hold the vertebrae in place. Surgeons may then also insert a bone graft to promote fusion between the two vertebrae.

Is anterior lumbar interbody fusion right for me?

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion is often an effective treatment for lumbar pain. However, it does have its limitations in creating stability, especially among patients with a “tall” disc. Before electing to undergo any surgery, patients should exhaust all other conservative options, as well as conduct research surrounding alternative surgical procedures. Many individuals with spondylolisthesis or spondylosis may not require surgery and can often ease the symptoms of these conditions through nonsurgical methods such as medication, physical therapy, weight loss and stretching.

Minimally invasive alternatives

Though anterior lumbar interbody fusion does not disturb the back muscles, it is subject to many of the same pitfalls of traditional open back procedures — higher risk of infection and complication and a long rehabilitation — because of its large incision and metal fusion.

Laser Spine Institute offers a safer, more effective alternative to traditional open back fusions like anterior lumbar interbody fusion through our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Our minimally invasive surgery is often the clinically appropriate first choice and provides many advantages versus traditional open back fusion. Unlike an anterior lumbar interbody fusion that cuts through the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the spine, our minimally invasive surgeries access the spine through small incisions.

For example, we offer a minimally invasive stabilization (MIS) procedure called a lateral lumbar interbody fusion. This procedure avoids the disrupting or stripping of the soft tissue and muscle that is required during other spine fusion procedures by utilizing small incisions on the side of the body. A lateral lumbar interbody fusion can offer the same stability as an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, but with the benefit of an outpatient procedure. This streamlined experience eliminates hospital-associated costs and helps patients get back to their lives faster* than they would with a traditional open back surgery.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive surgery and how you may be a candidate.