The cage fulfills two purposes:
1. It serves as a spacer that keeps the vertebral bodies from collapsing upon each other after the intervertebral disk is removed and
2. It encourages the growth of bone between the vertebral bodies above and below it, eventually resulting in fusion.
Studies show that patients undergoing interbody fusions along with posterolateral lumbar fusions fuse at higher rates than those underoing posterolateral lumbar fusions alone, so we tend to recommend an interbody fusion whenever it is possible. The types of lumbar interbody fusions that we use most commonly are:
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF)
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) and
- Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF)