When a spinal fusion is indicated after non-operative management has failed, it is used to correct problems with the bones in the spine called vertebrae. The most common reason for its use is as a treatment option when motion of the vertebrae is a source of pain, instability, or nerve compression.
An interbody fusion involves removing a diseased intervertebral disc and replacing it with a spacer that holds bone graft, which will promote healing the two bones together and stopping painful motion. It can also be used to maintain or correct alignment of the spine when it has lost its normal spatial relationships. An additional benefit of interbody fusion is that it can restore the disc space height at a segment that has collapsed, thereby increasing the space for nerves to pass through their normal channels.
An ALIF is performed through a small incision on the belly region. After the diseased disc is removed and a spacer is inserted, small screws are usually placed to add stability.
Watch the video below for a message from Dr. Ratnayake on the ALIF and LLIF procedure.