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Minimally Invasive Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF): A Patient’s Guide

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Minimally Invasive XLIFLower back pain can significantly impact the quality of life, making daily activities challenging and diminishing overall well-being. For those who haven’t found relief through conservative treatments, surgical options may be considered. Among these, the Minimally Invasive Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) stands out as a modern surgical technique designed to alleviate pain by stabilizing the spine. Unlike traditional methods, XLIF is performed through very small incisions on the side, offering a unique approach to spinal fusion.

What is Minimally Invasive XLIF?

Minimally Invasive XLIF is a fusion procedure that differs significantly from traditional spinal surgeries. Instead of accessing the spine through the front (anterior) or back (posterior), XLIF is performed through small incisions on the patient’s side. This lateral approach allows for a less invasive procedure, with no sutures required for closure, minimizing scarring and reducing recovery time.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive XLIF

The XLIF procedure offers several advantages over traditional spinal fusion surgeries:

  • Sutureless Incisions: The procedure’s minimally invasive nature means that incisions are small and require no sutures, leading to less scarring.
  • Reduced Muscle Damage: By accessing the spine laterally, there is less disruption to the muscles and tissues in the back, resulting in less post-operative pain and a quicker recovery.
  • Less risk of injury to vital organs: As compared to the anterior approach (ALIF) there is less risk of injury to the great vessels, colon and bladder.
  • More stability: As compared to a posterior approach (TLIF), more of the disc can be successfully removed and a much larger spacer block can be placed which provides for more stability and more surface area for bone graft.
  • Shorter Hospital Stay: Patients often experience a faster recovery, allowing for a shorter hospital stay.
  • Lower Risk of Infection: Smaller incisions reduce the risk of post-operative infections.
  • Less Blood Loss: The minimally invasive approach typically results in less blood loss during surgery.

Indications for Minimally Invasive XLIF

Minimally Invasive XLIF is recommended for patients suffering from:

Minimally Invasive XLIF

The Procedure: Step-by-Step

  1. Pre-operative Preparations: Patients undergo a thorough evaluation, including imaging studies to accurately plan the surgery.
  2. Anesthesia: General anesthesia is administered to ensure the patient is asleep and pain-free throughout the procedure.
  3. Incision and Access: A small incision is made on the side of the patient’s body. Minimally invasive retractors are inserted to gently separate the muscles and access the spine.
  4. Surgical Technique: The disc is carefully removed through the retractors. A spacer block with bone graft is then placed into the disc space, allowing the two vertebrae to grow into the bone graft and create a stable fusion.
  5. Closure: The procedure is sutureless, and the incisions are closed without the need for sutures.

What is the Difference Between XLIF and Traditional Spinal Fusion?

XLIF distinguishes itself from traditional spinal fusion through its innovative approach and reduced invasiveness. Traditional spinal fusion often requires larger incisions and more significant muscle disruption, leading to longer recovery times and increased risk of complications. XLIF’s lateral approach minimizes muscle damage and scarring, offering a quicker return to daily activities and less post-operative discomfort.

What is the Recovery Time for XLIF Surgery?

Recovery from XLIF surgery is generally faster than traditional spinal fusion. Patients can often return home within a day or two post-operation, with many returning to light activities within a few weeks. Full recovery and the complete fusion of the vertebrae can take several months, but the minimally invasive nature of XLIF supports a smoother and quicker healing process.

Who is a Good Candidate for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery?

Candidates for minimally invasive spine surgery like XLIF typically have chronic back pain due to conditions such as degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, or spondylolisthesis, and have not found relief through conservative treatments. Good candidates are those in overall good health, non-smokers, and without significant obesity, as these factors can affect the surgery’s success and recovery.

Risks and Complications

While minimally invasive XLIF is generally safe, it carries the same risks as any surgical procedure, including infection, blood loss, nerve damage, failure to fuse, and reactions to anesthesia.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery involves managing pain, starting physical therapy a few weeks post-surgery, and adhering to activity restrictions to ensure the fusion heals properly. The lateral approach and sutureless incisions contribute to a smoother and quicker recovery process.

Conclusion

Minimally Invasive XLIF represents a significant advancement in spinal surgery, offering a less invasive alternative with numerous benefits, including reduced recovery time and minimal scarring. This procedure is a testament to the ongoing innovations in spinal health, providing hope and relief for patients suffering from chronic lower back pain.

At the DISC Spine Institute, we specialize in cutting-edge procedures like the Minimally Invasive XLIF, bringing our patients the latest in spinal treatment options. Our team of spine specialists provides personalized care, tailored to meet the unique needs of each patient. If you’re seeking relief from back pain and want to explore the minimally invasive treatments we offer, we invite you to make an appointment with one of our experts. Together, we can determine the most effective treatment plan to help you return to a pain-free life.

Don’t let back pain control your life. Contact the DISC Spine Institute today to learn more about how our minimally invasive treatments can help you achieve lasting relief and improved quality of life.

Hospital Stay

Hospital Stay

Overnight

Typically 1-3 nights in the hospital.

Surgery Type

Surgery Type

Minimally Invasive

Incisions are typically 1 inch long.

Blood Loss

BloodLoss

Minimal

This procedure will cause minimal blood loss with limited tissue disruption.

Recovery Time

Recovery Time

Hours to weeks

Up and walking hours after surgery. Return to work approximately 4 weeks after surgery. No twisting, bending or heavy lifting for 3 months after the surgery.

Surgery Time

Surgery Time

Minutes

The procedure is approximately 60 – 90 minutes.

Not all patients and procedures are the same. The above is an example of what the typical patient can expect from some minimally invasive procedures.


Meet some of the Most Trusted Spine Doctors in North Texas

Fast Facts about Dr. Valente
  • Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeon
  • Nationwide, ranked Number 3 among all orthopedic surgeons sitting for oral board examination (AOBOS)
  • Has been appointed to Clinical Instructor positions at both Michigan State University and the University of California
  • Has lectured and published extensively
  • Participated in numerous research protocols
Spine Doctor Mark Valente

Fast Facts about Dr. Indresano
  • Board Certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon
  • He graduated top of his class at the University of California, San Diego
  • Received Fellow Research award for spine research at University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Extensively published in leading, peer-reviewed medical journals
  • Served as Academic Chief of residency program during his time in San Diego
Spine Doctor Andy Indresano

Meet with Dr. Valente or Dr. Indresano in person at one of our 7 convenient DFW locations

Ready for life without back pain? Dr. Valente and Dr. Indresano are here to help. Submit your information and our staff will contact you shortly.

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