ALIF is generally used to treat back or leg pain caused by degenerative disc disease. The surgeon will stabilize the spine by fusing vertebrae together with bone graft material.
The procedure is performed through a three- to five-inch incision on the stomach. Two common approaches are over the center of the stomach or slightly to the side.
The damaged disc is partially removed. Some of the disc wall is left behind to help contain the bone graft material.
Bone graft is placed in the empty disc space. This realigns the vertebral bones, lifting pressure from pinched nerve roots.
ALIF is typically combined with additional devices such as pedicle screws, which provide rigid spinal fixation and optimize the chance of achieving a solid spinal fusion.
Over time, the bone graft will form a bone bridge that connects the vertebra above and below. This solid bone bridge is called a fusion.