Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a procedure for disc fusion in which the disc is accessed from an anterior (front) abdominal incision.
The procedure places a bone graft between the vertebra in the area usually occupied by the intervertebral disc. In preparation, the disc is removed entirely. A device may be placed between the vertebra to maintain spine alignment and disc height. The intervertebral device may be made from either plastic or titanium. The fusion then occurs between the endplates of the vertebrae. Fusion rates are higher with interbody fusion.
In most cases, the fusion is augmented by a process called fixation, meaning the placement of metallic screws (pedicle screws often made from titanium), rods or plates, or cages to stabilize the vertebra to facilitate bone fusion. The fusion process typically takes 6–12 months after surgery. During this time external bracing (orthotics) may be required.
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