Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (or ALIF) surgery is a type of surgery used to correct lower back pain related to a variety of degenerative spinal conditions. In this procedure, vertebrae around the damaged or removed disc area are fused together using bone grafts to produce one inflexible unit for improved spinal stability.

The term “anterior” indicates that ALIF is a procedure that is performed from the front of the body, through the abdomen. The primary benefit of an anterior (front) approach is that the nerves and muscles of the back remain undisturbed, and may possibly reduce the patient’s post-operative pain and overall recovery time. If the spinal damage is particularly severe, however, ALIF surgery is sometimes paired with a “posterior” (or rear) procedure in order to provide the best chance of stability by introducing grafts to both sides of the damaged area.

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery may be performed in cases of:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated discs
  • Spondylolisthesis (a condition in which a vertebra slips forward)
  • Vertebral fracture
  • General spinal instability

As with any surgery, there are some risks. In ALIF surgery, the primary risks are that full fusion will not be obtained (a state known as “non-union”) or that it will not heal properly. Another concern is that the procedure takes place close to major blood vessels in the legs. Fortunately, when performed by a properly trained and experienced neurological surgeon like Dr. Neece, such risks are generally minimized. Proper spinal fusion via an anterior lumbar interbody fusion procedure can provide lasting relief from crippling lumbar pain, improve overall spinal stability and ensure a solid structure that bridges the physical gap that occurs where a damaged or ruptured disc has been removed.

If you have suffered spinal damage from a degenerative disc disease, injury or other condition and would like to discuss whether a discectomy followed by an anterior lumbar interbody fusion could be a solution for you, get in contact with our Frisco, TX office to make an appointment to speak with Dr. Neece about it one-on-one.