PLIF and ALIF
The two most common interbody fusion techniques used to treat chronic low back pain are PLIF and ALIF.
PLIF stands for Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. It is a fusion technique done from the back (posterior) of the lumbar spine. The PLIF procedure involves three basic steps:
Pre-operative planning and templating. Before the surgery, the surgeon will use MRI and CT scans to determine what size implant(s) the patient will need.
Preparing the disc space. An incision is made and back muscles are retracted to allow access to the vertebral disc. The surgeon then carefully removes the affected disc and surrounding tissue.
Implants Inserted. Once the disc space is prepared, bone graft, or BMP with a cage, is inserted to promote fusion between the vertebrae. Additional implants may also be used at this time to further stabilize the spine.
ALIF, which stands for Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, is similar to PLIF. However, it is done from the front (anterior) of the body. Our surgeons are leaders in this technique, and are currently involved in the development of specialized implants for use with ALIF procedures for surgeons worldwide.