Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) Definition

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) is a spinal fusion surgical approach to fuse the disc space of the spine through entering from the back of the body. An incision is made at the midline of the back and the left and right erector spinae muscles are stripped of the lamina of the affected vertebrae to allow access to the nerve roots. The nerve roots are then retracted and the disc material is removed from the disc space and replaced with the bone graft and anterior interbody cages. As in any spinal fusion, the bone grows from vertebral body to vertebral body to stop the motion at the segment causing pain. PLIF has the advantage that it provides anterior fusion of the disc space without having a second incision as would be necessary with an anterior/posterior spine fusion surgery.