Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion – disc removal and spinal fusion for stability
A Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, or PLIF, is a procedure that is utilized to remove a portion of a disc that may be pressing on a nerve and causing pain as well as to provide stability to the spine through spinal fusion. The PLIF procedure is achieved through an incision in the back and two bone grafts are placed for stability. In a similar form of spinal fusion, Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion or TLIF, the incision is made along the side of the spine and a single bone graft is placed.
Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Procedure Specifics
To begin the posterior lumbar interbody fusion procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the middle of the low back. Through this incision the muscles are moved aside to expose the lamina portion of the vertebrae. The surgeon will then use cutting instruments to remove portions of the lamina, portions of facet joints, and the spinous process from the back of the vertebrae.
This removal of bone enables the surgeon to view the affected disc and compressed spinal nerves, allowing him clear access to the herniated or bulging disc. Using a grasping instrument, the surgeon will remove most of the affected intervertebral disc on order to relieve the pressure on the compressed spinal nerve that was causing pain. Removing the disc also allows the spinal nerve to return to its proper position.
Following the removal of the disc, two bone grafts will be placed between the vertebrae to provide increased spinal stability.
The completion of the posterior lumbar interbody fusion surgery involves the incision being closed and dressed. Following the procedure, patients will typically remain in hospital for two to four days. Patients will be asked to abstain from strenuous activity for six to twelve weeks.