What Is a Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (Xlif)?

xlifThere are many problems that you may experience with your back. As a matter of fact, it is one of the more complex parts of the human body as it is a number of individual bones that are interconnected and held apart by small discs, known as the intervertebral discs. When you have problems with the discs, it can lead to a number of difficulties, including severe pain. That is because the vertebrae may end up coming in contact with the nerve, and this can cause the pain that you are experiencing.

One of the issues that some people experience with their spine is known as degenerative disc disease. This is a relatively common problem that can result in pain and radiating numbness or weakness that comes from the degenerated disc in the spine. That may seem like somewhat of a simplistic diagnosis, but the fact of the matter is, many people don't understand what the diagnosis means when they get it. Although it has the word disease in the name, it is actually not a disease but rather, it is a degenerative condition.

alifIf you have a problem with degenerative disc disease, your doctor may recommend that you have a type of procedure that is known as lateral lumbar interbody fusion. This is a type of procedure in which the surgeon is accessing the disc space and fuses the lumbar spine, which is the lower back, in order to relieve some of the pressure and to relieve you of the symptoms that you are experiencing. It is one of a number of different spinal fusion options that may be recommended by your surgeon to treat a specific type of lumbar spinal disorder. Degenerative disc disease is one of those disorders, as is lumbar disc herniations and lumbar stenosis.

The procedure is typically known as being minimally invasive. This can be of benefit to you, because it does not require a larger incision but rather, is a smaller incision and will typically result in less recovery time. It is commonly performed through one of those small incisions with a retractor that spreads the tissue so the surgeon is able to see the spine. In minimally invasive surgery, it may also be possible that the doctor does not use a retractor. This is something that should be discussed with the physicians before the surgery takes place.

As is the case with many spine problems, nonsurgical options will likely be considered along with any surgical options that your doctor may discuss with you. Be sure that you ask questions of the doctor, so that you can feel comfortable in what is taking place and of the options that are available. Since this is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, it is unlikely that you will have extensive tissue damage or long recovery time.