Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery (PLIF)
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a form of spinal fusion surgery performed on the lower back. The goal of any lumbar spinal fusion surgery is to ease back pain by reducing the range of motion at a certain level in your spine. To perform a posterior lumbar fusion procedure, the surgeon accesses the affected lumbar vertebrae through the back rather than the side or the front of the body. Incisions are between 3 and 6 inches long, depending on how many vertebrae need to be fused.
THE POSTERIOR LUMBAR INTERBODY FUSION PROCEDURE HAS LARGELY REPLACED AN OLDER FORM OF SPINAL FUSION SURGERY CALLED POSTERIOR LUMBAR FUSION SURGERY (PLF). PLF CONSISTED OF FUSING ADJACENT VERTEBRAE WITHOUT THE PLACEMENT OF AN INTERBODY IMPLANT, WHICH OFTEN WORKED IN THE SHORT TERM BUT LED TO WORSENING PAIN DOWN THE ROAD.
TODAY’S POSTERIOR SPINAL FUSION PATIENTS ENJOY MUCH BETTER LONG TERM OUTCOMES WITH THE INCLUSION OF INTERBODY IMPLANTS, WHICH RESTORE DISC HEIGHT AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY SPINAL CURVATURE THAT IMPROVES OVERALL LONG TERM PAIN REDUCTION AND OUTCOMES.
PLIF can also be performed as a minimally invasive surgery using smaller incisions and special instrumentation. Dr. Baig is skilled and experienced in both forms of posterior lumbar fusion procedures.
What Happens During a Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion?
A benefit of PLIF over standard posterior lumbar fusion surgery is how it’s performed – by accessing the spine through the back, which reduces the risk of damaging nearby tissue in the lumbar region. Through the incision, Dr. Baig will retract the back muscles and carefully remove the lamina of the affected vertebrae to access the damaged disc or discs. Additional bone and tissue may need to be removed, depending on the severity of your condition.
The damaged disc is surgically removed and replaced with an interbody implant and bone graft tissue. Although the implant can’t replace a lost spinal disc, it’s used to restore the spine’s integrity by maintaining the lost disc height and promoting proper spinal curvature. Additional bone graft material and screws, plates or rods are also used to fuse the vertebrae together.
Why Choose Posterior Fusion Surgery (PLIF)?
There are other approaches available for performing spinal fusion surgery:
- Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) – accessing the spine from the side or lateral part of the body.
- Anterior lateral interbody fusion (ALIF) – the surgeon accesses the spine from the front of the body.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each procedure, and in some cases, XLIF and ALIF are preferable. However, not everyone is a candidate for these approaches, while most people can have posterior fusion surgery.
Typically, a posterior spinal fusion procedure offers the following benefits over traditional spinal fusion surgery:
- The inclusion of an interbody implant restores three-dimensional alignment and balance to your spine.
- Long-term outcomes of pain reduction in posterior lumbar interbody fusions are far superior to traditional posterior lumbar fusion surgery.
- Post-operative complications, such as hardware failure and non-union (meaning the bones fail to heal) are significantly reduced as compared with traditional spinal fusion surgery.
- Minimally invasive PLIF uses much smaller incisions and sparing the back muscles from significant damage. Dr. Baig uses minimally invasive PLIF surgery whenever appropriate.
For many patients, the posterior lumbar interbody fusion recovery time is fairly quick, with patients often able to return to work within 6 weeks and the majority of daily activities within a few months.
Am I a Candidate for Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery?
MOST PEOPLE WHO ARE CANDIDATES FOR SPINAL FUSION SURGERY ARE CANDIDATES FOR PLIF. AS ALWAYS, DR. BAIG WILL NOT PERFORM ANY FORM OF BACK SURGERY UNLESS HE IS CERTAIN IT WILL HELP YOU. A CONSULTATION WITH DR. BAIG IS THE BEST WAY TO FIND AN EFFECTIVE TREATMENT PLAN FOR YOUR BACK PAIN AND RELATED SYMPTOMS.
REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT TODAY TO LEARN MORE.