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Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

There are a number of different problems that could happen in the lumbar, or lower, area of the spine. In some cases, it can involve the deterioration of the discs over time but it may also involve damage that occurs as a result of injury as well. Lower back pain is a relatively common issue but at times, it may become a problem that can affect your quality of life. If you suffer from lower back pain, your doctor will consider a number of options but in some cases, and anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery may be necessary.

Some of the most common reasons why you may be a candidate for this type of surgery includes degenerative disc disease, unstable spine, internal disc disruption, back pain along with leg and hip pain and if you continue to have residual pain after a disc removal surgery.


Because the intervertebral disc has become damaged, it is necessary to remove it and to insert something into its place to separate the vertebra and to prevent pressure from occurring on the nerve root. One of the options that are available is a spinal cage that is made from titanium. It is inserted into the area where the disc was removed and eventually, your bones will naturally grow through the holes in the cage to perform the fusion part of the surgery.

The anterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery is done under general anesthesia and an incision will be made to give access to the spinal column. The offending disc will be either fully removed or partially removed and something will be put into its place. One of the options for replacing the disc is to use the titanium cage that was described above. Another option is for a bone wedge to be put in the area, either your own bone from your hip or a bone that was donated from a bone bank.

Once that part of the surgery has been completed, everything will be moved back in place and the incision will be closed. Although some types of back surgery are considered somewhat minor, this is a major surgery so it is something that needs to be considered very carefully before it is performed. Your doctor will review any possibilities for nonsurgical solution with you, but there may be times when this type of surgery is necessary. Since there are risks involved with surgical procedures, including blood loss, instability of the spine, pain and incontinence, it is something that you will want to talk over with your doctor very carefully.