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Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) Surgery
PLIF stands for Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion and is the angle taken when the surgeon gains access to the spine from a posterior (through the back) approach, unlike anterior lumbar interbody fusion.
During the procedure, the surgeon accesses the spine through an incision in the lower back and removes the damaged disc or discs between the affected vertebrae. The surgeon then inserts a bone graft or bone substitute material into the space left by the removed disc to encourage the vertebrae to fuse together. The surgeon may also use hardware, such as screws or rods, to help stabilize the spine during the healing process.
PLIF surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia and may take several hours to complete. The procedure is typically performed on an inpatient basis, with people staying in the hospital for a few days to a week following the surgery. After the procedure, people will need to rest and follow a prescribed physical therapy program to help them recover and regain their strength and mobility.
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a surgical procedure that is used to treat various conditions affecting the lower back, such as degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, and spinal stenosis. There are several advantages to using PLIF as a treatment option, including:
- Pain relief: Back fusion can be effective at reducing or eliminating chronic back pain, which can improve a person's quality of life.
- Stabilization: PLIF surgery helps to stabilize the spine, which can reduce the risk of further injury or degeneration.
- Improved mobility: After a PLIF procedure, many people experience an improvement in their mobility and ability to perform everyday activities.
- Correction of deformities: PLIF can be used to correct deformities in the spine, such as scoliosis, which can improve a person's appearance and self-esteem.
- Durability: PLIF is a long-lasting procedure, with many people experiencing lasting relief from their symptoms for years after the surgery.
PLIF can be used to treat these conditions:
- Degenerative disc disease: This is a condition that occurs when the discs between the vertebrae of the spine wear down and become less effective at cushioning the spine. PLIF can be used to fuse the affected vertebrae together to provide stability and reduce pain.
- Scoliosis: This is a condition that causes the spine to curve to the side, resulting in an abnormal posture. PLIF can be used to correct the curvature of the spine and improve a person's appearance and mobility.
- Spinal stenosis: This is a condition that occurs when the spaces within the spine become narrow, which can put pressure on the nerves and cause pain. PLIF can be used to create more space within the spine and relieve pressure on the nerves.
- Spondylolisthesis: This is a condition in which one vertebra slips forward over the vertebra below it. PLIF can be used to stabilize the affected vertebrae and reduce pain. Overall, lumbar fusion surgery, including transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), can be an effective treatment option for people suffering from chronic back pain and other conditions affecting the lower back. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with a healthcare provider before deciding on any surgical procedure.
While PLIF can be an effective treatment option, it is important to be aware of the potential disadvantages of the procedure. These may include:
- Surgical risks: Like any surgery, PLIF carries a risk of complications, such as infection, bleeding, and nerve damage.
- Long recovery time: PLIF is a major surgery that requires a significant amount of recovery time. It can take several weeks or even months for a person to fully recover from the procedure.
- Pain during recovery: It is common for people to experience pain and discomfort during the recovery process, which may require the use of pain medications.
- Limited mobility: During the recovery period, people may be required to limit their activities and avoid certain movements to allow the fused bones to heal properly.
- Possible revision surgery: In some cases, the bones may not fuse correctly or the fusion may fail, which may require additional surgery to correct.
It is important to carefully consider the potential risks and benefits of PLIF with a healthcare provider before deciding on this or any other surgical procedure.
Like any surgical procedure, PLIF carries certain risks. Some of the potential risks of PLIF include:
- Infection: There is a risk of infection after any surgery, which may require additional treatment or even another surgery to resolve.
- Bleeding: There is a risk of bleeding during or after the surgery, which may require a blood transfusion or additional treatment.
- Nerve damage: There is a risk of nerve damage during the surgery, which can result in numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area.
- Adjacent segment disease: PLIF may result in an increased risk of degeneration in the segments of the spine above and below the fused area.
- Hardware failure: In some cases, the hardware used to stabilize the spine during the surgery may fail or become loose, which may require additional surgery to correct.
Some of the potential complications of PLIF we’ve already discussed.
Another potential complication of TLIF procedure is non-union. In some cases, the bones may not fuse properly, which may require additional surgery to correct.