Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

Also known as Anterior lumbar interbody fusion

Low back pain and degenerative disc disease to L4/5 or L5/S1


Pre-operative questionnaire
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Special preparation for surgery
You will be advised when to stop the following medications:

blood thinning drugs including aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel, HRT and oral contraceptives and some herbal medicines.

Admission to hospital
Night before surgery or on the day of surgery

General anesthetic

Operation position
Supine (on back)

Details of operation
An incision is made to the left of the umbilicus (belly button). Approach is made to the spine by retracting (holding out of the way) the abdominal contents. Special self retaining spinal retractors are used to gain a safe corridor down which to access the disc. The disc material is removed with specialised instruments. A spinal cage is filled with patient’s own bone (from a graft site) or a bone substitute and the cage is inserted in to the cleared disc space.

Length of surgery
1.5 – 3 hours

Urinary catheter required

Post-operative drain required

Post-operative antibiotics

Post-operative iv fluids (drip)
Yes- intravenous fluids and patient controlled analgesia

DVT prophylaxis
Yes – details tailored to individual patient

Mobilization after surgery
12 hours

Length of stay in hospital
1- 3 days

Post hospital recovery
2 weeks of gentle rest followed by 2 weeks gradually increasing to normal daily activities and a further 2 weeks of increasing to full activity level. Leave strenuous activities until after 6 weeks.

Sutures removed


Review appointment
6 weeks with x-ray
12 weeks with x-ray
6 months with x-ray
1 year with x-ray
and then annual review


Return to driving
2-4 weeks

Return to work
4- 6 weeks