Definition of anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) removes a damaged intervertebral disc or bone matter that is causing spinal nerve compression. The surgeon accesses the lumbar spine (lower back) through the front of the body, usually through an incision on one side of the abdomen. A bone graft is inserted between the vertebral bodies to stimulate new bone growth. With the help of stabilizing implants, a solid segment of bone will eventually form that, ideally, makes the lumbar spine stronger and less prone to degeneration.

Reasons for spinal fusion

There are a variety of reasons that may prompt someone to consider ALIF, including:

  • A spine that has degenerated due to the aging process; degenerative conditions include herniated discs, bulging discs, bone spurs, and spondylolisthesis, among others.
  • Spinal deformities, like scoliosis, lordosis, or kyphosis, can often be treated with spinal fusion.
  • Infections, tumors, or fractures due to a traumatic injury or accident may require fusion.

Alternative treatments

ALIF is a highly invasive, open spine surgery that should only be considered after all conservative treatment options have been attempted. The operation involves hospitalization, a large incision and a lengthy recuperation. If you feel that the risks of traditional open spine fusion are not for you, there are alternative treatments. Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain. Contact us today for a review of your MRI to find out if you could be candidate for one of our state-of-the-art, minimally invasive procedures.