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Vivek P. Kushwaha, M.D. Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon

Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion

Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion

Extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF) is a surgical procedure in which the front part of the lumbar spine is fused from the side. The surgeon makes an incision in the side between the lower ribs and the pelvis. Instruments pass through muscles and to the disc. Disc material is removed and a fusion graft is placed into the disc space. The graft is usually bone or a cage combined with bone.

The physician will use a fluoroscopy to determine the correct location to operate. Fluoroscopy is an imaging technique commonly used to obtain real-time moving images of the internal structures of a patient through the use of a fluoroscope. In its simplest form, a fluoroscope consists of an x-ray source and fluorescent screen between which a patient is placed. However, modern fluoroscopes couple the screen to an x-ray image intensifier and CCD video camera allowing the images to be recorded and played on a monitor.

Removing The Diseased Disc Tissue

During the procedure, the patient is positioned on his or her side and the incision is made between the lower ribs and the pelvis. The disc is located after passing instruments through the muscle layers, and the diseased disc tissue is then removed. The physician will place a fusion cage and/or bone graft in the space between the vertebral discs. When the disc is completely removed, utilizing metallic or carbon fiber fusion cages allows the spine to heal between the vertebral discs and for a more stable fusion. Structural support is obtained from the cage while healing goes on both through and around the cage and with bone graft or bone substitutes. The bone graft or cage is held into place by the normal compression of the spine.

The procedure will take approximately 1-3 hours, and the patient will stay in the hospital a couple of days. The recovery period depends on the extent of the surgery, age and health of the patient. A successful surgery reduces the chronic back pain of the patient.

Conditions Treated By Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion

Degenerative Disc Disease

Symptoms Treated By Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion

Back pain when sitting, bending or twisting
Chronic back pain
Chronic neck pain
Tingling in my legs

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