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Plif,Alif AND Tlif?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
After my surgery my surgeon told me that he did a plif AND Alif-but originally he told me he'd be doing a Tlif-I have a 9' incision in my back but that is all. Can a Alif be done through the back too? I am confused. Unfortunately, the surgeon is not that friendly or helpful (my surgey took 9 hours instead of 6 and he never even sent someone out to tell my family why!). He IS a top notch surgeon-so I guess that is what matters most.


  • is short for Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. Anterior means going in through the front. If you only had a incision on your back then he didnt perform an ALIF.
    The difference between a TLIF and PLIF is the angle at which the disc is approached, but both procedures are done through an incision in the patient’s back.

    Hope this helps.

    Christina :)
  • that is what I thought-but he told me he did both. Maybe he means that he put the cage in front and back.???
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  • I asked my Dr. about his approach, and I got confused too.

    He said that he cuts in the center of the spine, but he enters the spine itself from the side. I've wondered if that is just a straight PLIF or a TLIF. I do know that the ALIF woudl require a front incision though.

    I say google them, or look them up on the home page here for details.

  • I had a Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion. There is a 5 inch slight diagonal incision starting at my belly button. No incisions in my back. This is the same incision used to insert the ProDisc L.. Best of luck Steve
  • You've probably already done this, but if you look at the home page of this site it leads you to some animated "video" clips that explain each procedure and what is done. You may get a better understanding of what your doc did. I found them VERY helpful when I was doing my research before deciding on surgery. So sorry your doc doesn't have the best bedside manner. It makes it rough when that happens.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!!

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  • Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) is a type of back surgery used to fuse the disc space of the spine through entering the front of the body through the abdomen. In an ALIF, an incision is made on the left side of the abdomen and the abdominal contents and muscles are pulled to the side to allow access to the front of the spine.

    Disc material, which is located in the front of the spine, is then removed from in between the vertebrae to allow for the insertion of bone graft and/or anterior interbody cages into the disc space.

    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.

    A transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (called a TLIF) is essentially like an extended PLIF. It was developed in response to some of the technical problems with a PLIF procedure. The main difference between the two spine fusion procedures is that the TLIF approach to the disc space is expanded by removing one entire facet joint (whereas a PLIF is usually done on both sides by only taking a portion of each of the paired facet joints).

    Found this info on our site.

    Christina :)
  • Shay, perhaps your doctor is referring to the cage providing anterior column support, even though it was inserted through a posterior approach. My surgeon used a technique called POLAr http://www.zimmerindia.com/z/ctl/op/global/action/1/id/7745/template/MP/prcat/M6/prod/y
    He used a BAK Vista single cage that is inserted at an oblique angle and provides anterior column support. Maybe?
  • Shay,
    Maybe your surgeon is just SO GOOD that he just didn't leave a scar. :))(
    Gosh I think we'd all like to see him if that was the case. My scar is 10" long (but very neat). ;)
  • Thanks everyone! I go to gt my staples removed on Wednesday (I have 40). I am going to request my OR and hospital records while I am there. I think it will answer a lot of questions that I have. The surgeon offered no explanation as to why my surgery took 9 hours instead of 6 like he told us-I am curious as to what all he actually did! I will post what I find when I get the reports. There was also some questions about my kidneys-but no one ever came in to explain what was going on. The docs and nurses kept coming in and asking if I had dialasis or a kiney stint after reviewing my stomach xrays (I had a blockage and I kept throwing up). SO many questions.......
  • shay:

    I say, when you go in on Wednesday to get your stitches out, ask the doctor ALL of your questions. "Approachable" or not, he should tell you what was done to you. You should, at the very least, know what kind of surgery you had. I had a TLIF about 11 months ago, I had a surgeon who was very willing to tell me what he did and what to expect, before and after. Don't let these guys push you around. I hope you have a smooth recovery.

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