Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) surgery is designed to stabilize a patient's spine and reduce back and leg pain. In many cases, spinal fusion procedures can be performed using a minimally invasive approach with sophisticated surgical tools and techniques. However, open ALIF surgery may be necessary to treat patients who have undergone multiple treatments or require revision surgery. To learn more about undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion treatment, contact the practice of Dr. Luis Manuel Tumialán in Phoenix, AZ, today.

Candidates for ALIF Surgery

Minimally invasive surgery offers many benefits, including smaller incisions, less conspicuous scarring, and faster recovery time. In fact, for the large majority of his patients, Dr. Tumialán recommends minimally invasive treatment. But in some cases, traditional open surgery is the best approach. Dr. Tumialán may recommend traditional ALIF surgery if a patient is having a revision operation, or has significant spinal deformity.

Candidates for ALIF surgery suffer from spinal instability due to degenerative disc disease (spinal discs progressively break down), spinal stenosis (the vertebrae constrict the spinal nerves), or spondylolisthesis (one vertebra slips out of line with the others). This type of surgery is often recommended when discs must be removed and vertebrae must be stabilized, as the discs are easier to remove from the anterior side of the spine. Using MRI imaging and CT scans, Dr. Tumialán can determine whether this is the best type of spinal fusion for a patient.

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Dr. Tumialán may recommend traditional ALIF surgery if a patient is having a revision operation, or has significant spinal deformity.

The ALIF Procedure

Dr. Tumialán will create an incision in the abdominal region to gain access to the spine. This process can involve the temporary displacement of internal organs, as well as incisions in the abdominal muscles. Once he has accessed the spinal column, Dr. Tumialán will remove part or all of the affected disc (or discs). Next, he will fill the resulting space using bone grafting tissue. Over time, this bone will fuse with the top and bottom vertebrae and create a single, stable unit.

To hold the vertebrae in place while the grafted bone heals, Dr. Tumialán will secure a plate with biocompatible metal screws. This hardware will hold the spine in alignment during healing and will remain permanently in place after healing is complete. Once your spine has been stabilized, Dr. Tumialán will close your incisions, being sure to suture closed any internal tissues that were incised during the procedure.

Because traditional ALIF is an open surgery, you will need to prepare for an extended recovery process. Initial healing can take several weeks. Meanwhile, physical activity will be restricted for several months to ensure the best results. Over time, the symptoms caused by spinal instability will begin to subside.

Contact Us

To learn more about ALIF surgery, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tumialán, contact our office today.

Contact Us

If you are struggling with pain, weakness, loss of function, or other symptoms of spinal complications, contact Dr. Tumialán's office today.

Spine-Talks Featuring Dr. Tumialán