What is Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Spine | March 1, 2022

Minimally-Invasive Surgery for Spine Conditions in Central GA

Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (XLIF) is a powerful, minimally-invasive spine surgery technique that avoids some of the pitfalls of posterior lumbar surgery while correcting the patient’s condition and allowing them to heal faster and with less postoperative pain.

XLIF is a relatively new surgical procedure that allows a surgeon to use a minimally-invasive technique to perform a complete lumbar discectomy (removal of herniated disc material pressing on the spinal cord or nerve root) and then execute a fusion in the interbody space with a mechanical cage and bone graft.

This technique indirectly decompresses the spinal nerves as well as restores the lumbar disc height to the normal height. This surgery is indicated for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease, lumbar stenosis (when the spinal nerves in the lower back are choked), and lumbar radiculopathy (irritation of the nerve root as it exits the spine). Additionally, this procedure worked very well to restore lumbar lordosis and correct scoliosis (curvature of the spine).

How is Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion Performed?

The surgery is performed through a very small incision on the lateral side with the patient in a lateral decubitus position under general anesthesia. The hip flexor muscle (psoas) is gently moved out of the way allowing the surgeon to directly visualize the lumbar disc space from the lateral side of LI/L2 to L4/LS.

What are the Advantages of Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

  • There is less damage to the midline back muscles
  • There is easier access to the disc spaces
  • There is greater correction of spinal balance and alignment due to the ability to place larger bony cages
  • Patients often recover faster than a standard posterior fusion and have less pain immediately postoperatively

What are the Disadvantages of XLIF?

  • The L5-SI disc space can often not be accessed
  • There is a low risk of injury to the network of nerves running through the psoas muscle that could cause numbness, pain, or weakness

About Dr. William Brooks

Dr. William Brooks, the author of this article, is one of our orthopaedic spine surgeons at OrthoGeorgia. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Georgia, his Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia, and completed an orthopedic residency at the Atlanta Medical Center. He also accepted a fellowship appointment for spine from the New England Baptist Hospital in Boston. He is board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Medical Association of Georgia, National Association of Spine Surgeons, Georgia Orthopedic Society, and the Bibb County Medical Society.

Comprehensive Spine Care in Central Georgia

OrthoGeorgia is proud to provide orthopaedic care services in Central GA, including comprehensive spine surgery, care, and rehabilitation in Macon, Warner Robins, Milledgeville, Dublin, and Griffin, GA. Our Spine Center of Excellence team is made up of highly-specialized Board-Certified and Fellowship-Trained spine surgeons, pain management specialists, and spine rehabilitation specialists who work together to provide the best possible care to each of our patients. We diagnose and treat a wide array of spinal conditions utilizing Mazor Robotics technology. This guidance system is transforming spine surgery through enhanced predictability and efficiency. Along with spine care, we are proud to provide total joint procedures, hand care, sports medicine care, foot & ankle care, and comprehensive rehabilitation services. We want to help you live your healthiest and most comfortable life – contact OrthoGeorgia today for orthopaedic care with your needs in mind.

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Personalized Orthopaedic Care in Central Georgia

At OrthoGeorgia, we want to help you live a healthier and more comfortable life by giving those in Macon, Warner Robins, Kathleen, Milledgeville, Dublin, Griffin, and the surrounding areas convenient access to the highest quality care. Whether you have been suffering from a sports injury or a common orthopaedic condition, we will determine the cause of your discomfort and craft a personalized treatment plan to bring you relief. To learn more about our services and our physicians, or to schedule an appointment at OrthoGeorgia, please contact us today.

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