Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

When disc problems are happening in the lower back, it may be time to consider Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion or ALIF. This procedure fuses two of the vertebrae together to correct their alignment and prevent painful movement. The process begins by removing a disc through an incision made in the abdomen. This disc is replaced with a bone graft that helps to relieve pinched nerves and restore height. As the procedure site heals, the bone graft and two adjacent vertebrae will heal into one solid piece.

Why Would My Provider Suggest Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Patients who are experiencing lower back pain symptoms that haven’t improved with less invasive treatments may have ALIF recommended to them. It is effective when these symptoms are caused by degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, flatback syndrome, or other related conditions. In each of the above cases, less invasive options will be attempted first, but if those prove not to be effective, then ALIF may be appropriate. 

What Are The Benefits Of Receiving an ALIF over Other Procedures?

One benefit of receiving this treatment over others for the same condition is that it is less invasive and has faster recovery times. This procedure goes through the abdomen to avoid cutting into any major muscles or nerves. The forward placement of the bone graft ensures that it will be under compression from the spine, a condition that has been proven to provide superior fusing results. Another great benefit of this procedure is the ability to put a larger implant in place to enhance stability without damaging important nerves and muscles.

What Risks Are Associated With Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

While ALIF has been shown to have fewer risks than other similar procedures, it does have one specific risk that is unique to it. The operation site is in close proximity to large blood vessels that feed the fresh blood to the legs. If these should become damaged, dangerous amounts of blood loss could occur. Experienced spinal surgeons like our team of providers are able to perform the procedure safely with little risk of this complication. Another known side-effect is retrograde ejaculation, where ejaculate passes into the bladder during intercourse instead of the normal route. This occurs if certain small nerves are impacted as part of the procedure. While generally a benign side effect that does nothing to impact the sensation of ejaculating, it can make conception difficult.

ALIF is an advanced up and coming treatment that helps provide faster recovery times with better restoration of the natural range of motion and pain relief. Patients wanting to know more about this procedure, and if it can benefit them can reach out to our team at 201-634-1811 to get more information. Our team of spinal experts have been helping patients in New Jersey and beyond get relief from pain caused by discs compromised by damage.

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