Could XLIF Spine Surgery Be Right for Me?

Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) is a minimally invasive, advanced approach to spinal fusion surgery. Specifically, the abbreviation XLIF stands for:

  • eXtreme, so named by the surgeons who introduced the approach
  • Lateral, which means from the side of the body
  • Interbody, which refers to the area between two adjacent vertebral bones in the spine
  • Fusion, which refers to the process of two vertebral bones growing together

During this procedure, the patient is positioned on their side, and the spine is accessed from the side of the body, in what is known as the lateral approach. This is different from traditional methods of spinal surgery, which access the spine either from the front of the body (anteriorly) or back of the body (posteriorly). This lateral approach allows surgeons to access the space between each spinal disc without cutting through the major muscles, tissues and organs of the back and abdomen.

For patients suffering from spinal conditions such as instability or improper motion between the vertebrae from L2-L5, XLIF is the best option to relieve nerve root compression and correct spinal deformities.

Who can benefit from XLIF Surgery
A person with the following disorders that require lumbar fusion may opt for this advanced procedure:

  • Degenerative scoliosis
  • Disc degeneration
  • Low-grade spondylolisthesis
  • Herniated disc
  • Spinal deformity

Recovery Process
As XLIF is a standalone procedure, the recovery is relatively rapid compared to traditional methods. After the surgery, the patient will be moved to the postoperative recovery area to monitor their vital signs closely. Most patients are discharged from the hospital within 24 hours after the surgery.

After discharge, the patient will have several follow-up checkups with their surgeon to assess their progress. The medical team will advise the patient as to all of their required pain medications, activities for the physical therapy, and their timeline for resuming your normal daily activities.

Benefits of XLIF Surgery
The minimally invasive approach of the XLIF procedure helps conserve more spinal tissue and minimize post-surgical discomfort.

These benefits include:

  • Patients experience less pain as the back muscles, ligaments and vessels are left undisturbed due to the lateral approach.
  • This procedure has a quick recovery time as compared to traditional methods.
  • The whole procedure is completed within an hour, so patients have a shorter stay at the hospital.
  • Blood loss, scarring and tissue damage are minimized as only small incisions are made in this procedure.
  • Patients can often walk on the day of the XLIF procedure.

Like any other surgical procedure, XLIF has certain risks and complications. However, these risks have the lowest chance of occurring in XLIF compared to conventional methods.

XLIF Surgery at SRO Spine Center

Dr. Christian Athanassious is the medical director of SRO’s Spine Center and is a recognized leader in the field of both non-operative and operative care of spinal conditions.  Read more