Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LIF) surgery is a surgical technique involving the removal of the damaged intervertebral disc, and the insertion of a bone graft into the disc space created between the two adjoining vertebrae. Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LIF) surgery may be recommended in patients with degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and disc herniation. The aim of the surgery is to alleviate back or leg pain and stabilize the spine. An interbody fusion can be performed with different approaches.
An Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) is a type of spinal fusion technique performed from the front (anterior). The procedure is done under general anesthesia and fluoroscopic guidance. The spine is approached from the front side through an incision made over the lower abdomen. The abdominal organs and the vasculature are moved aside to access the spine. The anterior approach provides the advantage of accessing the diseased disc without disturbing the nerves. The damaged intervertebral disc is then removed and a bone graft is inserted into the disc space created between the two adjoining vertebrae. Bone grafts promote healing and facilitate the fusion. Screws and rods are used to stabilize the spine during the healing process.
Some discomfort around the incision and occasional muscle spasms can occur and resolve in a few weeks after the surgery. A back brace may be recommended by your surgeon to restrict movement of the back and promote healing.
The risks and complications of the surgery may include infection, bleeding, nerve injury, or spinal cord injury. Complications due to general anesthesia may also occur.