Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (XLIF)

Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion or XLIF, can be successful in treating lumbar degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, lumbar stenosis, scoliosis, spinal deformities, and other conditions.

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As a minimally invasive procedure, XLIF provides relief to patients who cannot tolerate a larger, open back surgery because of the increased risks that come along with it.

It is also less invasive alternative for patients who have lived with back or leg pain through years of failed treatments, including steroid injections, physical therapy, and pain medication.

In addition to alleviating neural compression, this surgery also immobilizes the fused section of the spine so that pain caused by movement is reduced or eliminated.

It is also beneficial because it may allow for less tissue trauma, less scarring, shorter hospital stays and less postoperative discomfort, resulting in a decreased need for post-operative pain medication.

This procedure is used only in the lumbar spine fusing one or more lumbar vertebra and removing the discs between them. It cannot treat conditions at the lowest level of the spine, L5-S1 or for some people at L4-L5.

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Is a Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion right for me?

Although only your doctor can tell you if a XLIF is the right treatment plan for you, you might be a qualifying candidate if:

  • You are experiencing lower (lumbar) spine pain.

  • Your pain is caused by degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, spondylosis, spine deformity or recurrent lumbar disc herniations.

  • You have suffered through years of failed treatments like (but not limited to) steroid injections, pain medication or physical therapy

  • Are not a good candidate for traditional spine surgery

Lateral Interbody Fusion Procedure

In a lateral lumbar interbody fusion, the surgeon takes a side approach rather than the traditional front or back incision.
Using this approach, the surgeon can reach the vertebrae and intervertebral disks without moving the nerves or opening up muscles in the back.

A fusion involves the removal of the disc causing nerve impingement (a discectomy), and then the fusion of the two vertebrae on either side of the disc space with bone grafts and hardware such as a metal, plastic, or bone spacer implanted between the two adjoining vertebrae.

These spacers, or “cages,” usually contain bone graft material which promotes bone healing and facilitates the fusion.

After the cage is inserted, the spine is stabilized using metal screws, plates, and rods.

The XLIF procedure includes the use of advanced nerve monitoring system (EMG) and allows the surgeon to have accurate, reproducible, real-time feedback about nerve health, location, and function, reducing the incidence of nerve injury during surgery.