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PLIF Surgery

Abbreviated as PLIF, Posterior Interbody Fusion is a type of surgery designated to stop motion of the spine at a specific targeted area. This surgery is conducted in the lumbar or lower area of the spine. One reason you may need this operation is to treat lumbar degenerative disc disease, where your disc may become painful from deteriorating and now causing rubbing. Another cause for a PLIF could be lumbar spondylolisthesis, where one of your bones slips forward, resting on the bone below it, causing pain. Back pain is a leading issue for many Americans. Talk to your doctor about any discomfort you may be having in your lumbar or lower back.

spine x-rays

Description of the Process

A PLIF operation starts with an incision along the lower back. Next, the lower back muscles are separated from the lamina, or plate on the back of your spine. After that, the lamina itself is removed, allowing for your surgeon to properly view the spine’s nerve roots. Once the disc space is properly cleaned, implants are inserted between the vertebra, restoring normal spacing and taking pressure off the rubbing vertebrae and nerve roots. Finally, a bone graft is placed in the implants and around the spine to alleviate pressure and restore normality. In the event that your spine needs additional support, screws and rods may be added. Throughout the healing process, your body will begin to repair itself by growing bone between the vertebrae, stopping the motion causing pain and discomfort.

Advantages of Posterior Interbody Fusion

This operation is advantageous by providing anterior fusion of the disc space without needing a second incision found in anterior/posterior spine fusion surgeries. By fusing the bone under compression and stress, it heals faster. When a successful PLIF surgery is completed, your spine forms a solid fusion to the new implant and bone graft, halting the motion that was causing pain and discomfort. Fusion rates for PLIF surgeries are generally very high- in the 90-95% success rates. You can increase your rates of successful fusion by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, not smoking and avoiding obesity. The risk of infection or bleeding is very low- 1-3% in all operations.

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