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PLIF: Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LIF) is generally employed to treat leg or back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. It involves stabilizing the spine by removing the damaged disc material and placing bone graft in the newly empty disc space between the vertebrae. This helps to eliminate pressure on nerve roots while realigning the spine. A bone graft is a surgical procedure that is generally used to fix problems with bones or joints. Transplanting bone tissue is called bone grafting, and is used to not only fix bones that may have experienced trauma, but also help grow bone around a device that has been implanted. Over time, the bone graft grows and connects the vertebrae. An Anterior LIF is performed through a three to five inch incision in the abdomen.

After a Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, most patients will be able to leave the hospital 3 to 5 days after the surgery. The recovery period afterwards lasts 4 to 6 weeks, and PLIF patients are advised to avoid situations and positions where they would have to bend at the waist, or lift more than five pounds. In the first 2 to 4 weeks after the operation, patients should also avoid twisting their hips. Patients usually do not have to wear a brace after a posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery.

When it comes to advantages, Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion has a higher chance for a successful fusion rate compared to other procedures such as posterolateral fusions. This is because a PLIF allows for bone graft to be placed in the anterior (front) part of the spine, where the bone is under more compression. According to Wolff’s law, bones respond better to stress, so the higher compression allows for better healing. Posterolateral fusions put bone under more tension, but not as much stress.

When considering if posterior lumbar interbody fusion is right for you, be sure to consult a spinal expert that can properly consult you on what the next best steps to take are. Doctor Marc Cohen of the Spine Institute is an expert in the spinal field, contact us today to schedule an appointment in the New Jersey area.