Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
What is Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion?
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, or ALIF, is a fusion procedure where the spine is accessed through the patient’s abdomen.
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a type of spinal fusion which involves an anterior approach to fuse lumbar spine vertebrae (bones) together. Anterior refers to the front of the body. Lumbar means the last five vertebrae of the spinal column. Interbody refers to the disc space between the vertebrae to maintain and reestablish disc height. Interbody spacers may have material inserted inside them to help promote fusion. Fusion means to surgically induce a union or joining of bone.
ALIF is usually performed to treat a variety of painful spinal disorders, including painful conditions like Degenerative Disc Disease and Spondylolisthesis. ALIF is preferred when there is a need to fuse multiple spinal levels and remove multiple discs. Frequently a vascular surgeon is used to help provide the exposure of the surgical site.
What happens after the procedure?
Most of the patients are allowed to go home after 3 to 4 days of surgery. Before patients can go home, they are instructed by physical therapists.
They are given proper instruction about:
- The right techniques to get in and out of the bed
- The techniques to walk independently
- The need to avoid bending at the waist
- The need to avoid lifting weight more than 5 pounds
The patients are allowed to resume bending, twisting and to lifting about 12 weeks after surgery.
- The following complications may arise after the surgery:
- The graft may be displaced from its right position
- The above and below vertebrae may not fuse together correctly
- The wound may get infected by microbes
- Vessels may be injured resulting in impaired lower extremity circulation or blood clots in the legs
This material is intended to give the patient an overview of surgical procedures and treatments and is not intended to replace the advice and guidance of a physician. Always consult with your doctor about the particular risks and benefits of your treatment.