Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a procedure used to treat problems such as degenerative disc disease, spine instability, and deformities in the curve of the spine.
During the ALIF procedure, the spine is approached through the abdomen. This particular procedure involves the insertion of a bone graft (when bone from one part of the body is taken and used in another location) into the disc space to help the vertebrae fuse together. The procedure stimulates the vertebrae to grow together so it can heal into a single, solid bone.
The goal of the procedure is to stabilize the spine so that pain and deformity is reduced.
What is an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)?
ALIF is a type of spinal fusion procedure that is performed in the lumbar (lower spine). The spine is approached through the front (anterior) abdomen region.
The intervertebral disc (pillow-like cushions in between your vertebrae that absorb shock) causing discomfort in the lumbar spine is removed, and a bone graft is implanted between the two vertebrae.
As the bone grows and heals itself, it binds (fuses) the two vertebrae together becoming a solid bone.
This procedure is typically performed in an effort to stabilize the spine and therefore reduce pain and decrease deformity.
Who Is a Candidate for Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) surgery?
Patients generally opt for ALIF surgery for a variety of reasons including:
- Reduction of back pain
- Stabilization of an unstable spine
- Medication reduction
- Prevention of deterioration
- Improved lower back and leg function
- Improved work and recreational capacity
- Improved quality of life
Just as with recovery time, the success of surgery will depend and vary by patient.
Results of An Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) Surgery
The recovery period for a spinal fusion procedure such as ALIF will vary depending on your body’s ability to heal and firmly fuse the vertebrae together. Patients typically stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery. During this time, there may be physical therapy or rehabilitation to help the patient with walking and stair climbing. Your surgeon may prescribe pain medication as needed. Typically patients will be required to wear a brace and complete physical therapy.
Many patients who have ALIF surgery are able to return to normal activities in as little as six weeks. When to return to work will depend on the type of work you do, but typically ranges from two to six weeks after surgery. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient.