An Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) is a surgical procedure in which two or more vertebrae are joined or fused together.
The procedure is usually performed for low back pain with or without nerve pain. The operation involves approaching the spine through an incision in the abdomen. The abdominal contents are moved to the side and the spine is approached without disrupting them. The affected disc space is removed from the spine and replaced with a structural bone graft or a cage type device packed with bone graft. The bone graft serves as a bridge over which the bone grows together in the spine. The cages are typically made of metal alloy, carbon fiber or polymer. Titanium or stainless steel screws and rods may be inserted into the back of the spine to supplement the stability of the entire construct.
Patients who are suffering from back or leg pain are potential candidates for the ALIF procedure. This pain is generally caused by natural degeneration of the disc space or by injury to a disc. Fusion surgery is usually considered only after extensive non-operative therapies have failed. Spinal fusion surgery is a common treatment for such spinal disorders as spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, severe disc degeneration, or spinal fractures.