This is a relatively new minimally invasive approach to the anterior spine both lumbar and thoracic and avoids an incision that traverses the abdomen as well as cutting or disrupting the muscles of the back.
In this fusion technique, the vertebrae and discs are accessed from a very small incision on the patient’s side (flank) a couple of inches in length. Special retractors are utilized in addition to a fluoroscopy machine that provides real-time x-ray images of the spine. Nerve monitoring is used to determine the proximity of the working instruments to the nerves of the spine. The disc material is removed from the spine and replaced with a bone graft along with structural support from a cage made of bone, titanium, carbon-fiber or a polymer.
Minimally- invasive ALIF is used in degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal instability, scoliosis, spinal stenosis and other spinal conditions that require anterior access to the thoracic or lumbar spine. This technique typically allows a shorter hospital stay and may be less painful than traditional approaches to the spine.