What Is an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion?
ALIF is a procedure that will repair damaged discs or realign bones that are causing you pain in your back or legs. Once the process is completed, the body heals with fresh bone growing around the graft. Within around three or six months, the two vertebrae fuse into one solid bone. Fusion and instrumentation are two parts of the process that work together, like solidifying concrete. While there may be a lower level of spine flexibility, it is minor enough that most patients will not notice it at all.
Why is ALIF Performed?
Most patients who have ALIF are between forty and sixty years old, often with degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or flat back syndrome. Suffering from any conditions like this could make you a prime candidate. Alternatively, you may have symptoms that are not improving with physical therapy and or medication.
There are a variety of benefits for this type of treatment. For instance, a larger space is created and this increases the chances of successful fusion. Furthermore, the path to the spine is from the front of the belly. Due to this, there is less pain caused to the back muscles and lower levels of disruption. This also means that you don’t have to worry about a difficult procedure and the whole process can be completed with just one surgery. It also does not involve a surgeon working around spinal nerves which is both complex and dangerous.
How is an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Performed?
A small incision will be made in your abdomen. From there, Dr. Callewart will remove the damaged discs. Afterwards he will fuse the two vertebrae that surrounded the damaged disc, completing the procedure.
What Results Should You Expect?
With professional treatment, this surgery can be completed in just a couple of hours. Patients are also typically able to go home one or two days later. However, full recovery can take anywhere between six and 12 weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions About ALIF
1. How long does it take to recover from an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion?
You might require pain medication for the first 4-6 weeks and can expect to return to work within the first 4 weeks post-op.