Extreme lateral interbody fusion (often abbreviated XLIF) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used for treating several lumbar and lower spine disorders. XLIF treats back and leg pain and offers a lower recovery time than traditional surgeries of its kind.
Our medical providers at Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates may recommend this procedure if your condition has proven resistant to treatment with analgesic medicine, steroidal injections, and physical therapy. Unlike other spinal surgeries of its kind, the surgeon accesses the patient’s intervertebral disk through an incision in the patient’s flank. By avoiding the patient’s front and back, the surgeon also avoids disrupting many of the patients muscles, ligaments, and bones.
The Surgical Procedure
In extreme lateral interbody fusion, the intervertebral disk which has been identified to cause the patient’s problem is removed and replaced with a device that fuses the spine together. Surgeons perform extreme lateral interbody fusion while the patient is under general anesthesia. The patient will be “asleep” for the procedure, which typically takes about an hour.
A small incision is made on the flank where an instrument known as a dilator is administered through the psoas muscle. Once the muscle is split, a retractor is inserted to grant direct access to the spine. The disc is then extracted and an implant is inserted into the affected disc space. This implant provides stability to the spine while also relieving pain, discomfort, and other symptoms associated with Degenerative Disc Disease or a herniated lumber disc.
Conditions Treated By XLIF
Surgeons have found extreme lateral interbody fusion to be effective in treating the following conditions:
- Recurring disk herniation
- Degenerative scoliosis
- Degenerative disc disease with instability
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis
- Adjacent level syndrome
- Spinal instability occurring after a previous non-fusion surgery
- Correcting a previous fusion surgery that did not fuse correctly
While many conditions can be solved with extreme lateral interbody fusion, this procedure is not recommended for everyone. Those with pinched nerves, scarring behind their abdominal cavity (retroperitoneal scarring) or degenerative spondylolisthesis may be referred to alternative procedures.