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Posterior Lumbar Instrumented Fusion

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Evolution of Posterior Lumbar Instrumented Fusion

Posterior Lumbar Instrumented Fusion (PLIF) is a technique performed to achieve spinal fusion in the low back (lumbar spine). While there are many approaches to achieve fusion this one is performed through a direct posterior approach to the back and works by inserting a cage made of synthetic material (plastic or metal) with bone graft directly into the disc space. A cage serves as a space holder between the diseased vertebrae and allows bone to grow through it, eventually becoming a part of the spine. During a PLIF a 3-6 inch incision is made in the patient’s back and the spinal muscles are separated to allow access to the vertebral disc. The surgeon then carefully removes the back of the vertebrae (lamina) to be able to see and access the nerve roots. The affected disc is then removed and the adjacent vertebral bone surfaces are prepared for fusion. Once the disc space is prepared, bone graft, a metal cage, or other biologic materials are inserted into the disc space to promote fusion between the vertebrae. Rods and screws may also be added to maintain stability and hold the graft in position.

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