Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery (ALIF) is a surgical procedure performed on the lower spine to alleviate the symptoms caused by a damaged intervertebral disc. During the procedure, the spine is accessed through an incision in the abdomen, and Dr. Khurana will implant a bone graft to fuse two vertebrae in the space that results from removal of the damaged disc. Through minimally invasive surgery performed at Marina del Rey Hospital, patients have access to cutting edge care and concierge service dedicated to making their recovery as successful and comfortable as possible.
The most common application of ALIF surgery is to treat degenerative disc disease. Intervertebral discs lie between vertebrae in the spinal column to help aid movement and provide stability. When a disc is injured or begins to wear down over time, it can lead to pain and instability of the spine. The ALIF procedure is typically performed on the lumbar (lower) spine on L4 through L5 or L5 through S1 at the base of the spine.
Minimally Invasive Spine Treatment
ALIF is considered a minimally invasive spine procedure, which has the potential for less complications and faster recovery times for patients. Making the incision and accessing the spine through the abdomen as opposed to the side (lateral) or back (posterior) has the advantage of allowing the surgeon to implant the bone graft with minimal disturbance and movement of the surrounding nerves.
Who is a Candidate for Intervertebral Disc Fusion Surgery?
As with any medical condition, patients suffering from back pain or injury should consult with an orthopedic spine surgeon for a comprehensive physical exam to obtain a proper diagnosis. In most cases, spine surgeons like Dr. Khurana will first prescribe a conservative course of treatment, in some cases a back brace, as well as physical therapy and strength training exercises for stability and strengthening of the back muscles. In cases where the patient does not respond to conservative treatment, or if the condition continues to worsen, spinal surgery may be an option to help alleviate pain and repair the damage.
Rehabilitation and Recovery
Recovery from an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery will vary from patient to patient depending on many factors, including the patient’s condition and overall health. Patients who undergo ALIF surgery can typically expect to spend anywhere from a few days to weeks in the hospital, after which Dr. Khurana usually prescribes a course of post-operative physical therapy and strength training exercises to help stabilize the back. Depending on the patient, the degree and duration of physical therapy can last from a few weeks to several months, but in most cases, patients are usually out of bed and walking again within a day of the procedure.
Read this article for additional information on anterior lumbar interbody fusion from AAOS.org.
Because ALIF is a minimally invasive procedure, it typically has a shorter recovery time, hospital stay, rehabilitation period, and generally less complications than traditional “open” reconstructive surgery. However, each case and patient is unique, and therefore each patient should work closely with their surgeon and medical team to design the most appropriate treatment and recovery plan for their condition. To find out if you qualify for Anterior Interbody Fusion Surgery, please contact Los Angeles Spine Group today.
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