Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion ALIF

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) refers to the surgical removal of a degenerative or herniated disc and replacement with a surgical implant and bone graft to allow two vertebrae to fuse together. The surgery is designed to improve or relieve pain associated with spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, or spondylolisthesis.

Fusion surgery is designed to remove the intervening degenerative or herniated disc and allow two bones to fuse solidly into a single segment.

The five lower back vertebrae (L1 to L5) are located in the lumbar region of the spine. The intervertebral disc between the L5 vertebra and the highest vertebra (S1) of the sacral spine, which comprises the sacrum and coccyx, may also be treated during an ALIF treatment (tailbone). The best results for anterior lumbar interbody fusion are isolated to single level disease typically at L4-5 or L5-S1.

Randomized prospective studies have demonstrated excellent pain relief for single level degenerative disc in chronic back pain sufferers.

  • Anterior refers to the approach of the surgery which is the front of the lumbar spine or abdomen.
  • Lumbar refers to the position on the spine which in this case is the lower spine or back region.
  • Interbody fusion refers to the implantation of a fusion device between the two vertebral bodies of the involved degenerative disc.
  • Research shows that ALIF results in effective vertebral fusion in at least 90% of cases, with many studies demonstrating rates of fusion in excess of 95%.

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Complications

By far the most common complication following surgery is an infection of the incision, which is entirely preventable. But not every ALIF procedure is the same; there are a variety of alternatives and factors that might affect the procedure’s outcome as well as relative risks and potential consequences. The best course of action for patients is to completely comprehend and go through the crucial elements of the ALIF, such as which treatment, what kind of implant will be utilized and why, and what kind of bone transplant the surgeon is advising and why.

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Recovery

Patients are typically able to leave the hospital in under three days following surgery for a one- to two-level ALIF, whether or not posterior fixation is used. Their surgeon should be consulted on the particulars of their activities and recovery. Until the fusion between the vertebrae is more advanced, patients are often discouraged from engaging in high-impact activities like jogging, weightlifting, and sports (including golf) (around three to six months).

Moreover, the hospital stay can be significantly extended if an ALIF is carried out as part of a more involved treatment (such a deformity correction or multilevel anterior/posterior fusion). The healing period is also significantly more variable as a result of this.