XLIF Surgery Information

XLIF surgery is an innovative technology that is used when performing spine surgery. XLIF stands for eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion. The procedure is less invasive than the traditional method of spine surgery and requires a smaller incision. This approach also means there will be less disruption of muscles, ligaments, blood vessels and abdominal organs.

XLIF surgery is generally performed to treat disc degeneration, disruption, or various other spinal conditions. It is recommended for thoracic lumbar spinal problems that are located at or above L5-S1 which require fusion.

Conditions that are prime candidates for this type of surgery are:
• Degenerative scoliosis
• Recurrent lumbar disc herniations
• Thoracic disc herniation
• Degenerative disc disease
• Spinal deformity

Any form of spinal fusion surgery should be assessed individually for each patient. A discussion between the surgeon and the patient should take place beforehand to determine the suitability of the procedure to be used to correct the problem.

Instead of accessing the spine from the traditional front or back of the body, this surgery is performed from the side of the body. This way the spine can be approached without disturbing the sensitive back muscles or removing any bone material.

The surgeon will make a small incision between the pelvis and the lower ribs. He will then use an instrument, called a retractor, to spread the tissues apart, which will allow him to see the spine. His next stop will be to remove the disc material, which in turn, will be replaced with a fusion graft.

An added benefit of this surgery is that it can be performed successfully in as little as an hour, which in turn means the amount of time the patient needs to be under anesthesia will be greatly reduced. Additionally, unlike the usual hospital stay that entails several days as a result of traditional spine surgery, this surgery generally requires only an overnight stay.

Because this is a minimally invasive surgery, its advantages are that it affords less tissue trauma, less tissue scarring, less time spent in the hospital, and less post-operative pain and discomfort. With less pain, the patient should have a lesser need for post-operative pain medications.

Patients will most likely be up walking the same night after their surgery takes place, since no back muscles, ligaments, or bones are compromised. Recovery time generally takes on average, 6 weeks, compared to 6 or more months with traditional spine surgery. However, this time period can vary greatly, depending on the patient’s age, overall health, and the extent of the surgery.

It should be noted that when it comes to back pain, there is rarely a way to eliminate it completely. Therefore, the realistic goal of XLIF surgery is to accomplish a reduction in a patient’s back pain.

In conclusion, because XLIF surgery causes less trauma to the body than traditional techniques, patients should experience a quicker recovery. This will allow them to return to normal activities much sooner than the traditional recovery period would have allowed.