Anterior vs. Posterior
Lumbar Fusion

The difference between an anterior and posterior lumbar fusion is how the spine is accessed. An Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) approaches the spine from the front (anterior) of the body, while a Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) approaches the spine from the back (posterior) of the body.

Anterior Lumbar Fusion procedures are typically performed as an open surgery to provide clear visualization of the disc space and vasculature.  The spine is approached from the front of the body to remove all or part of a herniated disc from in between two adjacent vertebrae in the lumbar spine. Those vertebrae are then fused using bone graft or bone graft substitute. This approach may be done in conjunction with another spinal fusion approach, such as posterior decompression, posterior screws, or anterior plating. To learn more about ALIF surgery, click here.

Posterior Lumbar Fusion procedures may also be performed either as an open surgery or using minimally invasive techniques, however the incision is made from the back (posterior) over the area to be fused. A portion of the lamina is removed via a laminectomy to make a “window” to visualize the nerve roots. The nerve roots are retracted to the side to visualize the disc space to be prepared for an interbody cage(s). To learn more about PLIF surgery, click here.


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