Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Lateral Lumbar Interbody fusion (LLIF) is a procedure in which the affected vertebra in the lower back is accessed, through the patient’s side rather than through the abdomen or the back. This procedure is less invasive and is designed to spare the muscles, ligaments, tendons and other tissue from the disruptions associated with traditional open back surgery. This surgery alleviates the symptoms associated with irritated or impinged nerve roots on the spinal cord.  Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion involves the removal of a large amount of damaged intervertebral disc material.

Process of Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

This procedure is a step above traditional spine fusion. In this approach, the vertebrae and intervertebral disks are reached without moving the nerves. An incision is made on the patient's side where a probe is inserted, to detect the compressed nerve roots and to protect healthy nerves. Next, series of larger tubes are inserted over the probe. Once this is done, a retractor is inserted over the tubes to move muscle tissue that blocks access to the spine. Now the damaged portion of the disc can be safely removed all the way through the small opening of the center tube. After this, the bone graft is inserted into the vacated space,  in the form of a bone block or within a metal cage implant. Eventually, the bone graft grows, creating a bridge between the vertebrae to ensure stability. Titanium screws are sometimes used to hold the cage in place. In some cases, additional incisions are made on the back to insert the screws.

Possible Advantages of Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Whether approached from the front, back, or side LLIF has several advantages. One advantages  is that the midline back muscles have less damage. LLIF allows  easier access to the spine, and in many cases, it offers improved alignment of the spinal bones. Moreover, a lateral fusion is less invasive technique, that results in reduced muscle injury. Speak to Dr. Shah at Premier Orthopaedic Associates is recommend the approach that best meets your needs.