Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

For Treatment of Lower Back (Lumbar) Pain

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)If you are experiencing lower back (lumbar) pain, you may be eligible for an minimally invasive ALIF surgical procedure. ALIF is used to treat low back pain by removing the painful disc and replacing it with a spacer that allows for the bones on either side of the disc to fuse together, thereby eliminating painful motion.

Since this procedure is minimally invasive, the incision is small and the muscles that cover the spine are left intact. During the surgery, a 2- to 3-inch incision is made on the abdomen; the muscles and organs are then moved aside by a vascular surgeon. This gives the spine surgeon access to the proper level to remove the disc and insert graft. Bone graft and/or synthetic graft is inserted into the disc space to aid in the fusion.

To maintain the proper spacing between vertebrae, while the bone fuses, a synthetic spacer with screws or integrated plate-spacer with screws may be used.

What is minimally invasive surgery?

Minimally invasive surgical procedures of the spine include the following benefits:

  • Shorter recovery time
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Decreased blood loss
  • Less damage to tissues and muscles
  • Smaller scars
  • Quicker return to daily activities

Who is a candidate?

ALIF may be recommended to treat a number of spine problems. However, the majority of people with these conditions will be successfully treated with conservative measures without surgery. When back and nerve problems cannot be corrected with a more simple procedure and pain persists at an unacceptable level, it may be necessary to do a fusion.

Where does the bone for a fusion come from?

The bone graft can be taken from you or from a bone bank. If using your own bone, local bone is saved during the surgery. Bone from a bone bank is a good option, if your own bone is weak or damaged from osteoporosis. In addition, synthetic bone graft may be used.

How long is the Alvarado Hospital stay?

The time spent in the hospital after an ALIF depends on several factors, including your overall health and the extent of your particular surgery. Many people will return home after two to three days in the hospital.

How long will it take to recover?

Recovery time after ALIF varies depending on your particular situation, the number of levels involved, and your general health. The key to a successful recovery is maintaining a positive attitude. You will be able to take short walks while in the hospital and will gradually increase the distance and frequency once at home. It can take up to three to four months for the bones to fuse together. During this time, you may need to wear a brace to protect the operative area. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on activity levels, including when you can resume driving and return to work.

What if I have other questions?

Just give our nurse navigator a call at (619) 229-4548 or by e-mail. She'll be happy to answer any questions you may have. Be sure to ask us about our upcoming seminars on back and neck pain—we’d love to see you!

Why choose the Advanced Spine Institutute?

The Advanced Spine Institute opened its doors in 2015—bringing together the best spine surgeons under one roof in central San Diego. Modeled after the renowned Marshall Steele program, which is nationally recognized for superior outcomes, the institute is the premier destination for San Diegans seeking minimally invasive, laser-guided and other advanced spinal procedures in a beautiful and healing patient unit reflecting San Diego's landscapes and landmarks.

We have a dedicated nurse navigator to ensure you are guided through every step of the process. Please call her at (619) 229-4548. Additional information about our services.

Contact Us for More Information and Physician Referral

To find a spine surgeon affiliated with our program, click here, call (619) 229-4548.