Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) is a minimally invasive spine surgery procedure that offers major advantages for both the patient and the surgeon. It requires a smaller incision and is less traumatic to the body’s normal tissues, resulting in a faster, less painful recovery.
During the XLIF® procedure the lumbar spine is approached from the your side (laterally), your surgeon will use an X-ray to precisely position and locate the operative space. Next, your skin will be marked at the site where the two small incisions will be made. Your surgeon will use the latest instrumentation to access the spine in a minimally disruptive manner. The surgery is performed through a muscle that lies next to the lumbar spine known as the psoas muscle. Disc preparation is the next step. This is done by removing the disc tissue which will allow the bones to be fused together. Several X-rays will be taken during this stage to ensure the preparation is correct.
Once the disc has been prepared, the surgeon will then place a stabilizing implant (an artificial graft) into the space to restore the disc height and enable the bones to fuse together. Once in position, a final X-ray will be taken to confirm correct implant placement. In the event that further stabilization is necessary, the surgeon may choose to insert additional screws, rods, or plates into the vertebrae.
For a single level XLIF® procedure, the surgery can be usually be performed in about an hour. Most patients stay in the hospital for 24 hours following the procedure, and do not require a brace. Occasionally, weakness may be noticed while lifting your leg after surgery. This psoas muscle weakness should return to normal fairly soon after surgery.
Not everyone is a candidate for this surgery, once conservative (non-operative) treatments have failed, you should consult a surgeon to see if you are an appropriate candidate.
The incision during a minimally invasive spine surgery is much smaller and less traumatic than conventional open surgeries. There is less disruption of the other tissues in the body during surgery, blood loss is minimal and most XLIF® patients are able to return home from the hospital within one to three days.