Lumbar Spinal Fusion
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)
Injuries and conditions affecting the vertebrae in your spine may require surgery for treatment. Usually, doctors will initially try to treat these conditions with conservative methods because surgery can be invasive, but conservative methods do not always work. One of the more frequently performed types of spine surgery is spinal fusion. Surgeons perform spinal fusion surgeries in different ways. These vary depending on the number of vertebrae requiring fusion, the cause of the pain and where its located in your back. If the pain is in your lower back, you’ll likely need a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF).
What is PLIF?Interbody fusion is a type of spinal fusion that involves the removal of the disc from between your vertebrae. This disc serves to cushion the vertebrae from friction, but many conditions can damage it and cause it to be the source of pain. Once the disc is removed, the surgeon inserts a small cage-like structure containing bone graft material between the vertebrae. This promotes the growth of new bone tissue between the vertebrae, which fuses them into one solid piece. The goal of PLIF is to fuse vertebrae with damaged discs in your lumbar with interbody fusion by approaching the spine from the rear. This can be beneficial because the entire procedure can be performed from one incision site rather than multiple incision sites required by some other types of lumbar fusion.
Who needs PLIF?PLIF is for people with chronic or severe lower back pain that is untreatable by conservative methods like physical therapy or medication. There are other types of fusion surgeries that can be used in the lower back, so your surgeon will examine your condition to determine if PLIF is right for you. Conditions frequently treated by PLIF include:
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
- Spinal stenosis
Is PLIF safe?Every surgery includes risks of potential complications. Our surgeons at Florida Spine and Joint are careful to minimize risks. Still, complications that can possibly occur may include:
- Nerve damage
- Loss of spinal fluid
- Blood loss
- Blood clots
- Allergic reaction
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If you have severe or long-lasting lower back pain that isn’t responding to conservative treatments, you should talk to one of our surgeons about PLIF. Contact us today to learn more about PLIF or to schedule an appointment.