Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (XLIF)

Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF) or Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) is a type of spinal fusion surgery, which connect two or more vertebrae in the spine. This procedure is used to stabilize the spine and relieve symptoms by fusing two or more vertebrae together.

Unlike traditional posterior approaches to the spine, XLIF is performed through a lateral (from the side) approach. This is usually done through a small incision on the patient’s side, avoiding the need to disrupt the back muscles and allowing access to the spine from the side.

Here are the key components of a Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion:

  1. Approach: The surgery is performed through a lateral (from the side) approach. This means that instead of accessing the spine from the back (posterior) or front (anterior), the surgeon accesses the spine from the side. This lateral approach is often done through a small incision on the patient’s side.
  2. Disc Removal and Fusion: The surgeon removes the damaged or degenerated intervertebral disc between two adjacent lumbar vertebrae. This removal is typically done to address conditions such as degenerative disc disease, disc herniation, or spinal instability. After disc removal, a spacer or cage filled with bone graft material is inserted into the disc space.
  3. Bone Graft: The bone graft serves as a bridge between the adjacent vertebrae, promoting the growth of new bone. Over time, this fusion process welds the vertebrae together, stabilizing the spine and reducing movement at the treated segment.
  4. Stabilization: In some cases, the surgeon may use additional hardware, such as screws and rods, to provide additional stability during the fusion process. This instrumentation helps maintain proper alignment of the spine while the fusion occurs.
  5. Indications: XLIF is commonly used to treat various spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal deformities, and cases where the traditional posterior or anterior approaches may not be suitable.
  6. Advantages: The lateral approach offers several advantages, including reduced disruption to the back muscles, potentially quicker recovery times, and less postoperative pain compared to some traditional approaches.

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