Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) Specialist

Remi Ajiboye, MD, MPH

Minimally Invasive Spine Surgeon located in Torrance, CA & El Segundo, CA

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) Q & A

PLIF - Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion 

The PLIF procedure is a minimally disruptive approach to traditional back surgery. During a PLIF (Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) procedure, the damaged disc is removed from between two vertebrae in the lower back (the lumbar region). The vertebrae are then fused together to reduce motion. The goals of the procedure are to restore stability in the spine, eliminate pain, and treat common spinal pathologies. 

Traditionally, a PLIF is performed by making a midline incision in the patient’s back. The attached muscles are then pulled back and laterally (to the side) to allow sufficient exposure for the surgeon to place pedicle screws for fixation. This often results in postoperative approach-related muscle pain and denervation (loss of nerve supply).

The distinct difference between a traditional “open” PLIF and a PLIF, is the medialized surgical approach. By using a medialized (closer to the spinous process) screw entry point, the PLIF procedure is designed to eliminate the need to retract muscle laterally past the facet joint to the transverse process, therefore requiring a smaller incision than an “open” PLIF. By minimizing the amount of muscle disruption, this procedure is intended to reduce postoperative approach-related muscle pain and enable a faster recovery for the patient.

PLIF Patient Benefits

In general, the PLIF procedure results in a shorter recovery and a faster return to normal activities compared to a traditional “open” PLIF procedure.

  • Reduced blood loss compared to a traditional PLIF procedure – the PLIF procedure requires a smaller incision and causes less muscle disruption than a traditional PLIF.
  • Minimal scarring and postoperative pain – the PLIF procedure avoids excessive lateral dissection/retraction that can cause trauma to and denervation of back muscles.
  • Reduced hospital stay – most PLIF patients are discharged from the hospital 1-2 days after surgery.
  • Faster return to normal activity – because this procedure is less disruptive than conventional posterior surgery, most patients are able to stand up and walk the evening after surgery.

Dr Remi Ajiboye is a minimally invasive spine specialist serving Torrance, California, El Segundo and the surrounding communities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rolling Hills, Lomita, Carson, Lawndale, Gardena, Hawthorne, and greater Los Angeles. Contact Remi Ajiboye, MD, online or over the phone to set up an appointment.