The Vault

Posterior Lumbar Decompression and Interbody Fusion (PLIF)

While we try to employ a minimally invasive approach, some patients have such advanced disease that they are not candidates for the minimally invasive approach. They have collapsed disc spaces, severe facet disease, soft tissue overgrowth, and profound spinal stenosis.

In this case, the posterior element of the spine has to be removed in its entirety as well as the discs between the spine bones. An interbody bone spacer is placed between the vertebral bodies to re establish the proper height and the segment is stabilized with screws and rods. The decompression is performed through a microscope to assure maximum safety and outcome. The approach does result in a fair amount of blood loss due to the necessary surgical dissection. Patients will be out of bed on day two and should be discharged by day three. Despite the breadth of surgery entailed in this procedure, the person with profound disease will see significant improvement over the long term.