Some other common reasons why XLIF would be chosen over other procedures are:
- Allows for minimal tissue damage
- Allows for minimal blood loss
- Requires smaller incisions and scars
- Minimal post-operative discomfort
- Relatively quick recovery time and return to normal function.
How Does XLIF Work?
The procedure begins with the patient lying on his or her side. Using an x-ray or other methods, we locate the disc which needs to be removed. Once located, the surgeon marks the skin with a marker directly above the disc, and creates a small incision in the flank area, pushing away the peritoneum (a sac covering the abdominal organs from the abdominal wall.
The surgeon will them make as second incision directly on the patient’s side, and insert a tube-like device known as a dilator. This is helpful as the proximity to certain nerve roots, means the surgeon must have a real-time understanding of where the organs and nerve are located, relative to all instruments. Neuromonitoring is also done, a process which checks on the function of the nerves during surgery, to make sure the procedure stays on track.
The surgeon will usually have to split a muscle that is blocking access to the disc, known as the psoas muscle. Once access to the disc is made, it is removed, and a spacer is put into place. The body will naturally fill the spacer with bone, and the surrounding vertebrae will fuse together. Depending upon the individual needs of the patient, additional plates, screws and more may be added. If you are suffering from a degenerative disc issue or any pain in the lower back, you may be in need of interbody fusion surgery, contact Dr. Vikas Varma today and find out.
The minimally-invasive XLIF procedure's small incision leaves patient's with a far less prominent scar.