Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) is currently one of the most frequently used fusion techniques for the relief of persistent lumbar region, or lower back, pain. As its name describes, ALIF is performed from the anterior, or front, of the spine. The anterior is chosen when it is closer to the problem area or the level of instability present is not too great. A major advantage is that a larger implant can be incorporated in an anterior procedure. Interbody fusion refers to the removal of an interverterbal disc, which is replaced with a bone spacer, and the adjacent vertebrae are fused together.
ALIF can be used to treat nerve compression, disc space collapse, scoliosis and other conditions. After obtaining images of the spine with MRI and CT scans, a physician can determine just what type of implant would be best suited to correct the problem.
The ALIF procedure is performed under general anesthesia with the patient lying face up on an operating table. The surgeon makes an incision on the side of the abdomen near the affected area. The muscles of the back and the nerves do not need to be moved from this approach. The injured disc and any other nearby debris are taken out. A bone graft or bone morphogenetic proteins are then attached in the open disc space along with any necessary instrumentation to promote stability in the spine.
Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) is an FDA-approved treatment used in conjunction with spinal fusion surgery to stimulate bone growth within the treated area and achieve more successful results without the need for a bone graft.
Discovered in the 1960s, this group of protein extracts is found naturally in the body and can be created by doctors and then placed in damaged areas of the spine in concentrated quantities in order to fuse the bone ends together at a rate faster or similar to the use of bone grafts. There are several different types of BMP found within the body, although BMP-2 is most thoroughly evaluated for this treatment.
As a still developing treatment, long-term side effects of BMP remain unknown, and it can be rather costly. It is currently approved for use in anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Most patients who undergo this treatment achieve successful fusion without having to extract a bone graft from another part of the body or using donor bone.
Dr. Kim stays ahead of technology and aims to define the forefront of evolving in spinal care. If you are considering a specialists in spine care, please contact us at 310-423-9716 or fill out or contact form for more information.