Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a surgical technique that involves removing a disc and fusing vertebrae together in the lower back (the lumbar region).
The procedure involves making an incision in the midline of the back. After cutting into the middle of the layer of muscle and ligament that sits on either side of the spine, the attachments to the spinous process and lamina are freed.
Using a special instrument that removes small bites of bone, the lamina is gradually removed until the surgeon can see the nerves. The nerves are then gently moved slightly to expose the disc between two vertebrae.
Using various instruments, the disc is removed through the right and left sides of the spinal canal and the space is then packed with bone graft and a bone block or cage implant. Devices such as pedicle screws are used to support the fused vertebrae. Additional bone grafts may be placed to ensure a solid fusion.