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An Overview of Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) Surgery

Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion

Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) is a surgical technique that allows the spine surgeon to reach the lumbar spine by entering from the side (lateral) of the body instead of the front or back. XLIF is one choice that a surgeon can use for particular lumbar problems. The procedure is minimally invasive and requires a shorter hospital stay than traditional open surgery techniques.

XLIF, much like other minimally invasive spine procedures, uses tubular retractors inserted into the incision to reach the spine. When the tubular retractor is in place, the surgery takes place through the tube. The damaged disc and other excess material are cleaned out of the disc space and removed through the tube. Once the disc space is clear of debris, a bone graft implant is inserted into the area between the vertebrae. The implant will bond with both vertebrae, forming one solid section, which will provide strong support and reinforcement.

XLIF is an option that can be considered in treating the following problems:

  • Scoliosis
  • Certain kinds of lumbar stenosis
  • Lumbar Disc Herniation
  • Thoracic Disc Herniation
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Spinal Abnormality

XLIF offers many benefits, which include:

  • Small amounts of blood loss and tissue damage
  • Smaller incisions and scars than other options
  • Quick recovery and return to regular activity
  • Less post-op pain than traditional open surgery, reducing the necessity of pain medication
  • Unlike ALIF, because of the side approach, no major blood vessels or organs must be moved, eliminating the need for a general or vascular surgeon
  • The side muscles are simply separated to access the spine, rather than being cut or torn.

The drawbacks of XLIF are that it cannot be used to correct problems in the L4-S1 vertebrae. Severe Spondylolisthesis or scarring from a previous abdominal surgery would also be contraindications for XLIF.

If you are suffering from unresolved back pain and would like to make an appointment to see if Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery is an option for you, please contact our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.

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