Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

ALIF is gen­er­al­ly used to treat back or leg pain caused by degen­er­a­tive disc dis­ease. The sur­geon will sta­bi­lize the spine by fus­ing ver­te­brae togeth­er with bone graft mate­r­i­al. The pro­ce­dure is per­formed through a three- to five-inch inci­sion on the stom­ach, two com­mon approach­es are over the cen­ter of the stom­ach or slight­ly to the side. The dam­aged disc is par­tial­ly removed. Some of the disc wall is left behind to help con­tain the bone graft mate­r­i­al. A met­al cage implant filled with bone graft is placed in the emp­ty disc space. This realigns the ver­te­bral bones, lift­ing pres­sure from pinched nerve roots. In some patients, this will be enough to secure the ver­te­brae. For oth­ers, the sur­geon may need to implant a series of screws and rods along the back of the spine for addi­tion­al sup­port. Over time, the bone graft will grow through and around the implants, form­ing a bone bridge that con­nects the ver­te­bra above and below. This sol­id bone bridge is called a fusion.