XLIF surgery (also known as “Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion” or” “Lumbar Spinal Fusion”) is a surgical procedure used to correct lower back (lumbar) pain and problems associated with degenerative disc issues and spine disorders like spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, lumbar stenosis, and herniated discs. During an XLIF procedure, Dr. Khurana will make an incision and access the spine through the patient’s side, as opposed to the abdomen or lower back.
For more information on this innovative and state of the art procedure, please visit the XLIF page on NuVasive’s website.
How Does Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion Work?
XLIF is considered to be a minimally invasive spine procedure, which uses several small incisions as opposed to a single larger one, and holds many advantages for the patient over traditional “open” back surgery. The potential benefits of XLIF surgery include:
- Less potential for tissue damage and blood loss
- Smaller incisions and less scarring
- Less pain and potential side effects
- Shorter hospital stays
- Faster recovery and healing times
XLIF is one in a series of spinal fusion surgical options. For this procedure, an orthopedic spine surgeon will remove a disc and replace it with an implant containing a bone graft to allow the vertebrae (small bones of the spine) to fuse together in the disc space.
Who is a Candidate for Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery?
The XLIF procedure may be a treatment option for patients suffering from the conditions mentioned above; however, it is not a viable option in every scenario. After a comprehensive physical exam and diagnostic evaluation of each patient, an orthopedic spine surgeon can determine whether XLIF is the best spinal surgery treatment option.
Under certain circumstances, XLIF is not a viable option for a patient. These circumstances include the following:
- Fusion between the 5th lumbar and 1st sacral vertebrae (L5-S1)
- High grade spondylolisthesis
- Scarring from a previous abscess or abdominal surgery
In some cases where a patient’s condition requires additional support for the vertebrae, a surgeon may also implant screws, plates, or rods for extra support.
Recovering From Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, the length and range of the rehabilitation and recovery period for XLIF will vary from patient to patient. Due to the minimally invasive nature of the procedure compared to traditional surgery, the recovery period for XLIF generally tends to be shorter, depending on the patient’s overall health and fitness.
Some patients notice a marked reduction in their pre-operative pain and discomfort, while some patients may experience relief more gradually. Pain at the incision site after surgery is normal and can be treated with medication. In many cases, patients can expect to be up and walking within a day of the procedure. Overall recovery times and return to normal activities will vary from patient to patient, and the typical range can be anywhere from several weeks to months. Physical therapy and strengthening exercises may be prescribed to help patients strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and to maintain a healthy weight in order to alleviate pressure on the lower back from reconstructive surgery.
To learn if an XLIF procedure can benefit you, please contact our orthopedic experts today.
Next, learn about ALIF surgery.