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PLIF versus ALIF

LisaRachelLLisaRachel Posts: 286
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:48 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am having PLIF done. I asked my doctor if we could do it ALIF but he said no because my spine was so unstable and they have to remove my L2. I have been reading that ALIF is less recovering time. Is this true?
I would love your comment..


  • I know that you must be feeling very anxious and wanting the best recovery time possible, but do trust that your surgeon know which type of surgery is needed to give you the best possible outcome.

    No spine surgery will be easy, but you want whichever access can do the best job of fixing your spine.

    I had PLIF, and my recovery was not nearly as bad as I had feared. I think that was due to me having done walking and exercise before my surgery to try to avoid it - (I was very scared too).

    If you can try to strengthen your core (get advice on how to do this - you can even do some exercises while lying down if your mobility is a problem).

    I hope that you will be able to put yourself into your surgeon's hands and trust him to do what is needed. :-) >:D<

  • You are right! I do trust my surgeon 100%. I do a lot of walking but have not worked on my core I just recently quit smoking it's been a month today. Thank you for your post and your understanding of my fears...

  • You are right! I do trust my surgeon 100%. I do a lot of walking but have not worked on my core I just recently quit smoking it's been a month today. Thank you for your post and your understanding of my fears...


  • Giving up smoking will really help yourself during your recovery (and even during the surgery).

    I know that it must have been very difficult at such a stressful time, but your fusion is likely to be much more successful if you are not smoking.

    If you can continue to not smoke, even after you are recovered, there will be less chance of further degeneration in your spine.

  • I have had both surgeries. The first one was a PLIF because, like you, my spine was incredibly unstable. Just looking at the x-rays is a shock because the rods are slightly askew as my Dr. had such a mess to deal with.

    My second was an ALIF, however, this time I had to wear a brace to help the fusion, as my Dr. said ALIFs may not be as strong during fusion as a PLIF.

    Glad to hear you trust your Dr., that is so important. If I can help more please feel free to PM me.

    Take care,

  • Hi Lisa which surgery was harder? Just curios because I'm having a PLIF L4-L5 this Friday!

  • It's so tough to know why doctor's recommend one over the other but there are good reasons for each. Sounds like your surgeon has a good reason.

    I'm assuming you got a 2nd or 3rd opinion. Did they agree on the PLIF and for the same reasons? I only ask because in my case, TLIF (which is PLIF) was what they all recommended based on my case IF I opted for it. I ended up with revision MicroD but I will tell you it's about trusting your surgeon, your research, and yourself. If you have doubts, feel free to talk further to your surgeon about it and/or go for another opinion.

    Sounds like you are doing everything RIGHT! Congrats on quitting smoking and as for core, there are exercises a PT could recommend to someone waiting for surgery and even if not, they will have you focused on your core after surgery. Keep up the great work on the no smoking!
  • Thanks Dnice and Lisa your kind words keep me going....

  • Typically the PLIF is harder to recover from, moreso to do with all the muscle that has to be cut to get at the spine. Mine was a 2 level PLIF, L2-L4. One level may be a bit easier. By no means is any spine surgery a "walk in the park". The more prepared you are the better.

    Good luck,

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