XLIF Surgery

XLIF surgery stands for Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion. This surgery is relatively new in the medical field of spinal surgery. What this surgery does is it removes an entire spinal disc in the lower back area and replaces the disc with an implant. This implant physically fuses with the parts of the spine that once connected to the removed disc.

The surgery is needed for patients who have extreme back problems in the lower lumbar region. Surgery for the lower discs are needed when these bones become deformed or are decaying from a bone condition. Because of the seriousness of the surgery, most doctors try to avoid XLIF when they can. A full physical examination and consultation is needed before the surgery can be done.

The surgery only focuses on the lower part of the spine. Because of this, XLIF is a unique surgical procedure. For starters, the surgery is done by having the patient lie on their side. Unlike other spinal operations, the disc is removed and replaced through an incision that is made on the side abdomen. This is why the patient needs to rest on their side during the operation.

Before and during the surgery, the doctors will utilize an x-ray to see where the problem disc is located on the spine. Once it is located, an incision is made on the side abdomen. This is usually in between the pelvis and the lowest parts of the rib. An x-ray is consistently used to make sure that the right bone is being removed during the surgery.

The next part to the XLIF surgery is the separation of muscle. There are large muscles that surround the spine in the location of the incision. Devices are used that open up the muscle walls and clamp these muscles. This helps expose the spine bone to be visually seen through the incision.

At this point, the doctors will begin the replacement process. Instruments are used the degrade away and remove the disc from its location. Luckily, the same muscle clamping devices keep the two parts of the spine in place. This leaves an air space where the doctor can now place the implant. The implant will be fused to the bone through special bone fusion devices. Once done, the muscle is repaired and the incision is sealed up.

Like any spinal operation, XLIF can have its complications. One complication is that XLIF surgery does not have the longest term studies in the medical field comparatively. Hence, there is no real long term insight on the effects of this surgery. Secondly, because the incision is made on the side to replace the disc, there can be nerve system complications. Major nerves come out from this part of the lower back to the legs.

Most complications from XLIF surgery are usually minor however. The hospital will perform weeks of physical therapy afterwards with the patient to help him or her walk more efficiently after such a major operation. With this surgery, major back pain in the patient will decrease substantially.

Comments are closed.