Minimally invasive fusions are a group of procedures designed to fuse two or more vertebral segments together through smaller incisions than traditional techniques. Minimally invasive lateral interbody fusions, sometimes known under the trade names XLIF, OLIF or DLIF, are types of minimally invasive fusion and can be used to treat a number of different spine conditions in both the thoracic and lumbar regions.
What is Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion?
Minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion is a surgical procedure designed to be minimally disruptive to the tissues around the spine. This is done by making one or more small incisions and performing the surgery through those openings with special tools. This is contrary to traditional spine surgery, which instead uses one large "open" incision to gain access to the spine. The use of smaller incisions has the potential benefits of decreased scarring, risk of infection, bleeding, damage to uninvolved spinal elements, pain, hospital stays, and recovery time.
Some conditions treated by minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion include:
- Back pain
- Degenerative disc disease including recurrent herniated discs
- Spinal stenosis
How Does Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion Work?
During the minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion procedure:
- A small incision is made in the side of the body and dissection continues until the side of the spine is identified. There is a large muscle on each side of the spine called the psoas. This muscle is typically pierced to access the discs. Special monitoring is used to identify nerves within the psoas and prevent their injury. A device known as a "retractor" holds this incision open for surgery.
- The affected spinal disc or vertebral body is located and removed.
- A cage is then inserted into this space. This implant will integrate with the spine over time creating a fusion. The cage restores the height of the disc or spinal canal, and decompresses the nerves or spinal cord.
- Instrumentation (screws, rods, or plate) may be needed to help stabilize the spine further and can often be placed percutaneously.
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Minimally invasive surgery typically works best for focal problems and may not be suitable for all conditions. Ask your doctor if a minimally invasive approach may be right for you. Request treatment information today: contact us.