Lumbar interbody fusion (overview)

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 13 Oct 2021

Lumbar interbody fusion is a common technique that aims for osseous fusion after discectomy. 

There are anterior and posterior approaches (relative to the transverse process), some of which require additional instrumentation, and none of which have been demonstrated to be clinically superior with limited high-quality research comparing techniques 1,3,4:

Generally, there is a lack of strong evidence for which procedure is best for which indication but speaking very generally for selected indications 4:

Lumbar interbody fusion essentially comprises of discectomy, vertebral endplate preparation, bone graft +/- interbody cage or spacer to restore intervertebral disc space height 3,4.

Radiographic complications include 2:

  • graft subsidence
  • pseudarthrosis
  • hardware loosening and/or migration

The first lumbar interbody fusion technique described was the PLIF by Briggs and Milligan in 1944 4.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: surgical approach
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: surgical approach
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 1: failed PLIF
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.