PLIF (Posterior Lumbar Fusion)

A posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a very common minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). It is used to treat conditions that compress the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots and cause pain in the lumbar spine (lower back) and/or extremities. The conditions include the following:

  • Degenerative disc disease. Age-related changes to the intervertebral discs of the spine.
  • Spinal stenosis. The narrowing of the spinal canal.
  • A herniated disc. The protrusion of a portion of an intervertebral disc into the spinal canal.

Patients who undergo a PLIF at Hope Orthopedics can look forward to long-lasting symptom relief.

A PLIF at Hope Orthopedics

A team approach is used to perform a PLIF at Hope Orthopedics. A board-certified anesthesiologist administers general anesthesia. A team of surgical nurses work together to position patients and make sure they are completely relaxed and comfortable. A spine surgeon performs the procedure using advanced minimally invasive techniques, which include the following:

  • Incision. A small incision is made.
  • Exposure. A series of dilators are used to create a small space.
  • Disc removal. Microscopic instruments are used to remove the disc.
  • Implant insertion. Vertebral anatomy and height are restored after a bone graft filled implant is placed between adjacent vertebrae.
  • Fixation. The implant is secured and fixated using rods and screws.

The majority of the procedure is performed under live x-ray guidance. Total procedure time is approximately two hours.


Patients who undergo a PLIF usually stay in the hospital for 1-3 nights after their procedure. Their pain is controlled while they regain strength. Nurses and physical therapists work closely with patients throughout their stay. Patients go to follow up appointments two, six, and twelve weeks after their surgery. X-rays are taken at follow up appointments to make sure the bones are healing properly. Patients are slowly allowed to return to physical activity as their recovery progresses.


Patients see a significant improvement in symptoms that were caused by nerve compression. As their bones heal, patients will regain strength and be able to perform day-to-day activities. Range of motion will decrease after surgery because of the formation of a single solid vertebra; however, patients will experience far less (if any) pain. Patients who are interested in finding out if a PLIF is a procedure that can help relieve their pain are encouraged to schedule an appointment with one of the spine specialists at Hope Orthopedics.