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Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) is a less invasive form of spinal fusion surgery. “Anterior” refers to the surgeon’s approach– through the front. Accessing the spine through the front of the body means that no back muscles need to be dissected, resulting in a faster, easier recovery with less pain.

Not everyone is a candidate for ALIF. While open ALIF surgery requires the cutting of some abdominal muscles, Dr. Baig is also skilled and experienced at minimally invasive ALIF (Mini ALIF) which uses much smaller incisions that preserve the strength and integrity of the abdominal muscles.

Because an anterior approach involves working around major blood vessels, this surgery is always done in conjunction with a vascular surgeon. Dr. Baig has performed numerous successful ALIF and mini ALIF surgeries in partnership with excellent vascular surgeons.

What happens during ALIF?

The goal of ALIF is the same as other lumbar interbody fusion surgeries such as XLIF, TLIF and PLIF.

Making an incision in the front of the body, Dr. Baig will access the damaged lumbar vertebrae by retracting the abdominal muscles, organs and blood vessels. An experienced vascular surgeon will assist. Damaged disc material is removed, and an interbody implant is placed in the empty disc space to restore disc height and maintain proper spinal curvature. Bone graft material is used to fill in the rest of the disc space and to fuse adjacent vertebrae together. Screws, rods or plates may be used for added stability.

Your recovery time will vary depending on your medical status and whether you had open ALIF or Mini ALIF.

Why ALIF?

There are a number of benefits to ALIF and Mini ALIF over traditional posterior approaches to spinal fusion surgery. 

  • With an anterior approach, the back muscles are not cut, making your recovery significantly easier and less painful.
  • With a Mini ALIF, the abdominal muscles are not cut, reducing your recovery time even further.
  • Spinal nerves that need to be manipulated for a posterior approach (PLIF) are not affected during ALIF.

Am I a candidate for ALIF?

ALIF, especially Mini ALIF, is an excellent surgical option for certain spinal conditions including degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis and scoliosis, but it may not be the best option for you. As always, Dr. Baig will not perform any form of back surgery unless he is certain it will help you. Not everyone is a candidate for ALIF or Mini ALIF. A consultation with Dr. Baig is the best way to find an effective treatment plan for your back pain and related symptoms.