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Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a spinal fusion procedure intended to treat various painful conditions in lower back such as spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, and adult scoliosis. This procedure usually involves implantation of a device between the spinous processes. In PLIF procedure, the patient is made to lie on his/her abdomen and surgery is performed from the back where either an implant is used to fuse the vertebral bones or replace the degenerated disc with an implant.
The surgery may be done using an open approach where a long incision is made along the middle of the back, muscle bands are stripped off from underlying spinal elements, and tissues are retracted to provide a better space for performing the procedure. Another approach is by minimal access spinal technologies (MAST). The minimally invasive approach offers several advantages such as minimal incisions, minimal or no muscle stripping, less tissue retraction, minimal blood loss, and faster recovery.
In PLIF procedure the bone graft will be placed around the backside of the spinal canal. The metal screws, plates, and rods are used to hold the vertebrae in place. The pedicel screws and metal rods create a stiff metal frame that holds the vertebrae so that healing can occur. Later, the implant is placed around the back which fuses into spinal processes and provides stability, thus treating the condition.