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Interbody Fusion (TLIF/XLIF/ALIF)

Interbody Fusion refers to a series of surgical procedures in which the operating surgeon completely removes a spinal disc from the lumbar area of the spine before fusing the surrounding vertebrae. Physicians use Interbody Fusions to relieve severe or chronic spinal pain caused by conditions such as disc herniations, slipped discs, or facet arthritis. As a relatively invasive procedure, physicians tend to suggest Interbody Fusions as a last resort after exhausting all other conservative treatment options. 

Fusion Surgery


Once the surgeon removes the vertebra, disc(s), bone spurs and disc fragments, the patient undergoes a spinal fusion to stabilize the spine.  Spinal fusion essentially “welds” the spine. Physicians fuse together spinal bones (vertebrae) so that they heal into a single, solid bone.

Although Neurosurgeons perform most spinal surgeries using a posterior (back) approach, some surgeons may choose a different approach for a number of reasons:

  • To avoid multiple surgeries in the same area if you have already had previous spinal surgery.
  • To allow more direct access to the spine, depending on the incision site.
  • To add more lordosis to your spine.
  • Possibly faster recovery.

Most interbody fusions take between 2 or 3 hours.

To start the procedure, the  Neurosurgeon will remove the intervertebral disk from the spinal column and implant a metal, plastic, or bone spacer between the two spinal vertebrae. The spacer, sometimes called a “cage,” usually contains bone graft tissue. This promotes healing and facilitates bone fusion.

After placing  the cage in the disk space, the neurosurgeon may add stability to your spine by using a screws to hold the cage in place. Before the procedure, your surgeon will talk with you about which option will work best for you.

In addition to bone grafts, Surgeons commonly use metal plates and screws to fuse the bones in place. Fusion will take away some amount of spinal flexibility. The degree of limitation depends upon how many spine segments or “levels” fuse.

If You Think You May require a Fort Worth Brain and Spine Specialist, Contact Longhorn Brain & Spine Immediately To Get a Consultation.