My surgeon has explained what an anterior interbody fusion is but I'm not sure I really get it. Could you help put it into laymen's terms?
In the simplest terms, an anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a spinal fusion. Two vertebral bones are fused together to stop motion at that segment. Anterior means the operation is done from the front of the body. This helps prevent damage and scarring to the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels of the spine. The disc material is removed from between the two lumbar vertebrae. Then a special device called a fusion cage is inserted into the space between the two vertebrae (interbody). As they are placed into the disc space, the space opens up even more. The cages are usually threaded and made of titanium. There's an open space inside the cage to put bone chips. This helps with the fusion process. They may be tapered at one end to help keep a slight arch in the bone. This mimics the normal position of the disc and vertebral bones on either side.