Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)

Patients who are dealing with chronic lower back pain due to a condition affecting the lumbar (lower) spinal region may be recommended for a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). Before undergoing a surgical procedure such as a PLIF, it is important to educate yourself as a patient about the potential risks and difficulties that can accompany it.

PLIF is a spine fusion technique where a damaged spinal disc is removed and replaced with a bone graft and metal hardware. The purpose of this surgery is to relieve the pain associated with a bulging or herniated disc and provide stability to the area. However, it is important to understand that this type of traditional open back surgery is highly invasive and involves risk of complication and a lengthy recovery time.

Definition of posterior lumbar interbody fusion

Understanding the individual terms that make up posterior lumbar interbody fusion can help you better understand the procedure itself:

  • Posterior — indicates that the procedure will be approached from the back side of the patient
  • Lumbar — refers to the lower region of the spine where the operation will take place
  • Interbody — means that the graft will be placed between two vertebrae
  • Fusion — indicates that the procedure will involve the connecting of two or more areas of the spine in order to limit movement and increase stability

Performed as a traditional open spine surgery, a posterior lumbar interbody fusion is a serious and invasive procedure. Most surgeons will only recommend this procedure when conservative treatments have been fully exhausted.

We understand that choosing to undergo a procedure such as this is often associated with much thought and consideration, which is why we recommend researching the full range of options and alternatives before agreeing to a procedure. Because this type of spinal fusion involves significant muscle disruption and overnight hospitalization, it is also typically accompanied by a long recovery time and greater risk of infection and complication.^

Minimally invasive stabilization

Though traditional open back fusions were once the only viable option for patients needing stabilization, Laser Spine Institute performs minimally invasive stabilization procedures as an outpatient alternative. Our procedures accomplish the same goals as traditional spinal fusions such as a PLIF, but with numerous advantages, such as a small incision, muscle-sparing techniques, lower complication rates and a shorter recovery time.^ To learn more about a minimally invasive alternative to traditional fusion, contact Laser Spine Institute today. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, we offer multiple procedures to treat a wide range of neck and back conditions.

We’ll be glad to help you receive a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.