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Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

What is an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)?

If you suffer from severe lower back pain, you may be indicated for surgical intervention to include an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF). This procedure has been a success since the 1990s, with routine implications by our team of surgeons.

At NeuroSpine Plus, Dr. Scheid and Dr. Hunt, use an anterior or frontal approach, with the assistance of a vascular surgeon, to remove your damaged spinal disc(s). The disc is then replaced with a graft, or cage, and secured with instrumentation.

Their safe, steady, and skilled hands alleviate pressure from your surrounding spinal nerves, providing prolonged pain relief to your back and spine. This procedure reduces movement between the fused bones, prevents wear and tear, enhances spinal stability, and encourages the bones to grow together, or fuse, over time. 

In addition to confidently performing minimally invasive spinal procedures, our neurosurgeons go above and beyond expectations, and have done so for close to three decades, to ensure continued success. Our surgeons and providers attend trainings and workshops, specializing in the utilization of the most advanced methods to improve the procedure’s efficiency and ensure lasting results.

To learn if you truly qualify for an Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, call our office for a consultation with one of our board-certified spinal specialists at 201-399-3388.


What conditions are treated with an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)?

Anterior lumbar interbody fusion is one of the most effective treatments for addressing lower back pain associated with lumbar spine disc pathology. Your surgeon may recommend this operation if you have any of the following conditions:

ALIF surgery is a highly technical and advanced procedure that can provide you significant relief from debilitating symptoms like numbness and tingling in your legs, weakness, pins and needles, muscular fatigue, and other symptoms related to lumbar disc prolapse, spinal stenosis or spinal cord injury.

How is an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) performed?

Before your surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions to include but are not limited to:

  • No eating or drinking after midnight the night prior to your procedure
  • Stop taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatories or blood thinners
  • Wash the surgical area with antibacterial soap the night before, and the morning of, your procedure

You will be given general anesthesia by a trained anesthesiologist. You will be completely asleep before the procedure begins. Depending on pathology and surgical discussion, this procedure may take 1-3 hours. This approach is with the assistance of a trained vascular surgeon for safe abdominal exposure. The spine is assessed anteriorly with the use of a specialized retractor system. The damaged discs are removed with surgical instrumentation and replaced with a spacer packed with bone graft. Instrumentation is secured with surgical-grade hardware. The abdomen is tediously closed with dissolvable sutures and covered. You are then transferred to the recovery unit.

Following the procedure, you will likely be admitted to the hospital for several days to monitor your postoperative progression and ensure routine recovery. You will be discharged from the hospital once deemed safe and appropriate by a member of our surgical team.

What to expect following an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)?

Your postoperative healing progress will be closely overseen by our team of providers, ensuring a routine recovery. A member of our team will contact you within the first 48 hours of your procedure to monitor your progress. Your initial post operative appointment will be scheduled within two weeks of your surgical date. A member of our team is always available to answer questions or address your concerns during your recovery period.

General postoperative recommendations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Over-the-counter Tylenol for pain 
  • Advance your diet as tolerated as discussed with your team; ensure regular bowel movements.
  • Avoid bending/twisting/ lifting
  • Do not lift greater than 10 pounds
  • Do not use NSAIDs until cleared by your surgeon (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, etc)
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments
  • Incision care to include washing your incision with gentle antibacterial soap 48 hours after your procedure. No scrubbing, submerging, or soaking the incision(s). No lotions, creams, oils, or ointments atop the incision(s).

When to contact your doctor's office

If you have concerns during your postoperative period to include, but not limited to the following:

  • High fever greater than 100.4F
  • Change in urinary or bowel habits
  • Swelling or discoloration of one or both calves
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Incisional compromise
  • Loss of strength in your arms or legs

If you have a question regarding your initial postoperative period, a member of our team is always available to answer and address your concerns at 201-399-3388.


If you have had any of the following conditions, the doctor may advise you not to have ALIF:

  • Multiple failed lumbar fusion surgeries
  • Multiple abdominal surgeries
  • Aortoiliac occlusive disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Extreme vertebral instability
  • Severe osteoporosis
  • Severe compression fractures
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Being severely overweight

At NeuroSpine Plus we have decades of experience performing this procedure and strive to keep complications to a minimum. Whatever your concern may be, an experienced member of our team is here to assist you during the recovery period.

If you believe you may be a candidate for an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, call our office today to book your consultation at 201-399-3388.

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