Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) Procedure
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) is a procedure used to treat problems such as disc degeneration, which may result in spinal instability or deformities in the curvature of the spine. In this procedure, the surgeon works on the spine from the front (anterior) and removes a spinal disc in the lower (lumbar) spine. The surgeon inserts bone graft into the space between the two vertebrae where the disc was removed (the interbody space). The goal of the procedure is to stimulate the vertebrae to grow together into one solid bone, a process known as fusion. Fusion creates a rigid and immovable column of bone in the problem section of the spine. This type of procedure attempts to reduce back pain and other symptoms.
Download the ALIF patient brochure to learn more about this procedure and what to expect before, during and after surgery.
Is ALIF Right for Me?
Your physician might determine an ALIF (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) procedure is a good option for you if you require an interbody fusion, are skeletally mature, and have received at least six months of non-surgical treatment.
Conversely, your physician may determine that an ALIF procedure is not a good option for you if you are not a good candidate for fusion surgery in general due to other medical conditions. These conditions can be, but are not limited to: signs of inflammation or infection near the operative site, patient sensitivity to implant materials, patients with inadequate bone quality, previous retroperitoneal surgery, previous aortic bypass or endovascular stent graft, and other indications.
Are There Risks Involved?
Keep in mind that all surgery presents risks and complications that are important to discuss with your physician prior to your surgery. Listening to your physician’s guidance both before and after surgery will help ensure the best possible outcome from your procedure. Risks associated with the Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) procedure include: blood vessel damage, problems with the interbody device or hardware, retrograde ejaculation (in males), deficit or damage to the spinal cord, nerve roots, or nerves, possibly resulting in paralysis or pain. Please contact your physician to discuss all potential risks.
Anterior approaches, such as in ALIF, allow access to the discs at the front of the spine and do not require muscle stripping as in posterior approaches. ALIF provides the surgeon with a clear approach to the lumbar spine with excellent access to the operative disc space. Patients tend to experience less incisional pain from this approach.
I have more questions, who can I ask?
In addition to consulting with your physician and medical teams, it often helps to speak to someone who has been through the procedure. To connect with a Patient Ambassador who has already had an ALIF procedure, please complete our request form.
While this website provides information about many different non-surgical and surgical options, it is not meant to replace any personal conversations that you should have with your physician or other member of your healthcare team. Not all the information here will apply to your individual treatment or its outcome. The information is intended to answer some of your questions and serve as a guideline for you to ask your healthcare team appropriate questions about the procedure.