Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF) is a surgical procedure used to treat certain lumbar spine conditions by fusing two or more vertebrae together. This procedure involves accessing the spine from the side (lateral approach) to insert an interbody spacer or implant between the vertebrae, promoting fusion. Here is an overview of lateral lumbar interbody fusion for patients:
  • Degenerative Disc Disease: Wear and tear on lumbar discs leading to pain and reduced mobility.
  • Spondylolisthesis: Forward slippage of one vertebra over another.
  • Disc Herniation: Protrusion of disc material causing compression of nerves.
  • Spinal Instability: Abnormal motion between vertebrae due to injury or degeneration.
  • Medical Evaluation: Patients undergo a thorough medical evaluation, including imaging studies (MRI, CT scans) to assess the extent of the lumbar spine issue.
  • Discussion with Surgeon: The surgeon explains the procedure, discusses potential risks and benefits, and answers any questions the patient may have.
  • Positioning: The patient is typically positioned on their side.
  • Anesthesia: General anesthesia is administered to ensure the patient is asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
  • Incision: An incision is made on the patient’s side to access the lumbar spine.
  • Discectomy: The intervertebral disc is removed to prepare the space for fusion.
  • Interbody Implant Placement: An interbody spacer or implant is inserted between the vertebrae to restore disc height and promote fusion.
  • Instrumentation: In some cases, screws, rods, or other instrumentation may be used to stabilize the spine during the fusion process.
  • Closure: The incision is closed with sutures or staples.
  • Hospital Stay: The length of the hospital stay is typically one to three days.
  • Activity Restrictions: Patients are advised to avoid certain activities, such as heavy lifting or strenuous exercise, during the initial recovery period.
  • Physical Therapy: Rehabilitation exercises and physical therapy are introduced gradually to help restore lower back strength and mobility.
  • Postoperative Visits: Patients have follow-up visits with the surgeon to monitor the healing process, address any concerns, and assess the effectiveness of the procedure.
  • Imaging Studies: X-rays or other imaging studies may be conducted to evaluate the fusion progress.
Potential Risks and Considerations:
  • As with any surgical procedure, there are risks, including infection, bleeding, and complications related to anesthesia.
  • The success of fusion may vary among individuals.
  • Changes in spine biomechanics may occur.
It’s essential for patients to have a thorough discussion with their healthcare team, including the surgeon, to understand the specifics of the surgery, potential risks, expected outcomes, and the postoperative care plan. The decision for surgery is individualized based on the patient’s specific condition and symptoms.


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