PLIF is generally used to treat back or leg pain caused by degenerative disc disease. It stabilizes the spine by fusing vertebrae together with bone graft material.
The procedure is performed through a three- to six-inch incision in the back. Parts of the vertebral bone are removed to get access to the disc. The damaged disc is then partially removed, leaving some of the disc wall behind to help contain the bone graft material. Then bone grafts are placed in the empty disc space, realigning the vertebral bones and lifting pressure from pinched nerve roots. The area may also be filled with morselized bone. The surgeon may implant a series of screws and rods to the back of the spine for additional support. Bone graft placed along the sides of the spine will grow through and around the implants, forming a bone bridge (fusion) that connects the vertebral bodies above and below.
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