Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion, abbreviated PLIF, is a type of lumbar spine surgery that combines one or more interbody devices (such as a cage) with bone graft to stimulate bony fusion. The term bony fusion means new bone grows to join two or more vertebrae together. While interbody devices are used to fill the disc space after discectomy (or microdiscectomy), other spinal instrumentation may be included to increase spinal stability. Spinal instrumentation generally refers to different types of plates, rods, and screws that secure or fix the spine in position.
Between the vertebral bodies
Depending on your spinal disorder, number of levels to be treated, and other factors, surgery may be performed as an open approach or minimally invasive surgery (MIS). An open approach requires a long(er) incision and cutting through muscle and other soft tissues to gain access to the intervertebral disc(s). Minimally invasive surgery uses smaller incisions (some puncture-like) and specialized equipment to gently separate muscle and soft tissue. Your surgeon will explain what your surgical procedure may involve, as well as intended benefits and possible risks and complications.
The procedure is performed using image guidance and involves a laminotomy or laminectomy. The laminae are two flat bony plates on the posterior portion of the spine that form part of the ring of bone surrounding the spinal cord. Laminotomy is partial removal of the spine's laminae. Laminectomy is complete removal of the lamina.
Otomy partially remove, make a hole
Ectomy completely remove
Laminotomy or laminectomy is performed to access the spinal cord, nerve roots, ligament, and disc. Both procedures are used to decompress - or remove pressure from the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. During laminectomy and discectomy, the facet joints may be removed to further decompress the spine and to create space for the interbody device(s).
After discectomy, one or two interbody devices (such as cages) are filled with bone graft and implanted in the empty disc space. More bone graft is packed around the interbody device. PLIF involves posterior fusion; rods and pedicle screws to provide spinal support and stability.
Potential benefits, risks, and complications
Spine surgery is an important decision. While the final decision is yours to make, the benefits and potentials risks and complications require careful consideration. We look forward to answering your questions and helping you to resolve your concerns about any treatment offered by Piedmont Spine Center.