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.
As opposed to types of spine fusion that are approached through the back, an anterior lumbar interbody fusion leaves the nerves and muscles in the back undisturbed and places the operative site in compression for better bone fusion.
However, there are also a few unique risks with performing fusion from the front. For example, a major blood vessel needs to be moved to the side to gain access to the spine from the front.