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.