Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion

(ALIF, PLIF, TLIF, ILIF)

Minimally Invasive Spinal Fusion Overview

Minimally invasive spinal fusion treats a diseased or damaged intervertebral disc. The procedure is an excellent alternative to traditional open incision surgery. The unique approach creates less surgical trauma while still accomplishing the same surgical goal. Spine and extremity pain are dramatically reduced shortly after the procedure.

How is minimally invasive spinal fusion performed?

Minimally invasive spinal fusion is usually performed as an inpatient procedure. A board-certified anesthesiologist administers general anesthesia to make sure the patient is completely asleep before the procedure begins. A CONA specialist:

  • Gently retracts soft tissues to expose the disc
  • Carefully removes the disc
  • Inserts and fixates a cage implant packed with bone graft into the intervertebral space

Absorbable sutures close tissue layers and removable ones close the skin. A sterile dressing is placed over the surgical site. Total procedure time is approximately 1-2 hours.

What conditions can minimally invasive spinal fusion treat?

Minimally invasive spinal fusion may be recommended to treat:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylolisthesis

The procedure is usually only recommended when these conditions and their symptoms do not respond to nonsurgical treatment options.

What are minimally invasive spinal fusion advantages?

Minimally invasive spinal fusion has several distinct advantages:

  • Less postoperative pain
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Better response to physical therapy
  • Quicker recovery

Additionally, there are four unique minimally invasive spinal fusion approaches that can be made:

  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF)
  • Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF)
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)
  • Interlaminar lumbar interbody fusion (ILIF)

Each approach has its own advantages. A CONA spine specialist uses an approach that is best for the patient’s condition. The surgical outcome is the same for all approaches. Bone graft fuses with the bone to form a single solid vertebra that does not cause pain.

What is minimally invasive spinal fusion recovery like?

A 1-3 night overnight hospital stay is necessary. Patients rest in a comfortable private hospital room while their discomfort is monitored and infection precautions are taken. Patients see their CONA specialist 2 weeks, 1, 3, 6, 8 and 12 months after surgery. Specific recovery instructions are given during the hospital stay and follow-up appointments.

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