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
Special preparation for surgery
stop all blood thinning medications including aspirin, warfarin, clopidogrel.
Stop HRT and oral contraceptives. Stop some herbal medicines.
You will be advised when to stop these medications.
Admission to hospital
Night before surgery or on the day of surgery
Supine (on back)
Details of operation
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 specialized 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 iv fluids (drip)
Yes Intravenous fluids and patient controlled analgesia
Yes – details tailored to individual patient
Mobilization after surgery
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.
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
Return to work
4- 6 weeks