XLIF: Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion
Unlike traditional back surgery, XLIF® is
performed through the patient’s side. By
entering this way, major muscles of the back
are avoided. This minimally-invasive procedure
is generally used to treat leg or back pain
caused by degenerative disc disease. It can be
performed on an outpatient basis.
Video and explanation.
Accessing the Spine
The surgeon creates two small incisions in the
patient’s side. These incisions are much
smaller than those used in traditional back
surgery. A probe is inserted through one
incision. The second incision is used to help
guide the surgical instruments.
The surgeon uses the probe to stimulate and
detect nerves along the side of the spine.
When a nerve is found it can be avoided and
left undamaged. Fluoroscopic x-ray images
also are used to guide the probe to the proper
position on the spine.
Dilation Tubes Inserted
A series of dilation tubes are slid over the
probe to create a larger opening. Then, a
retraction device is used to move aside muscle
tissue and gain access to the spine.
The surgeon operates through the channel
created by the retractor. The damaged disc is
An implant filled with bone graft is placed into
the empty disc space, realigning the vertebral
bones. This also lifts pressure from pinched
nerve roots. Bone Morphogenetic Protein
(BMP) may also be used to encourage bone
growth and a strong fusion.
End of Procedure
The morselized bone graft will grow through
and around the implant, forming a bone bridge
that connects the vertebral bodies above and
below. This solid bone bridge is called a fusion.