Minimally Invasive Solution: Direct Lateral Interbody Fusion
In recent years, minimally invasive solutions are becoming more and more the norm for physicians who practice spinal surgery. One of the most prominent techniques used in minimally invasive surgeries is the Direct Lateral Interbody Fusion, also known as LLIF (lumbar lateral interbody fusion).
This approach to spinal fusion allows access to the affected spinal region while potentially minimizing the dangers associated with open back surgery. LLIF involves accessing parts of the spine through muscles on the left or ride side of the body, in order to reduce soft tissue damage and blood loss. Depending on the location of the damaged or injured vertebrae, interbody fusion requires the physician to gain clear access to the spine and therefore he may take several different approaches to accomplish this.
Three types of interbody fusion includes:
- Anterior Lumbar Interior Fusion (ALIF): involves approaching the spine from the front of the body through an incision in the patient’s abdomen
- Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF): involves approaching the spine through an incision in the patient’s back over the vertebrae to be treated
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF): involves approaching the spine from the side through an incision in the patient’s back
There are a variety of factors that influence a surgeon’s decision on which procedure will be best for their patient. They must take into consideration:
- The spinal condition to be treated
- It’s location in the spinal column,
- The attending physician’s training and surgical experience,
- Available technology
Where LLIF differs from other interbody fusion techniques is the procedure itself. LLIF allows the patient to return to full agility at a much faster pace than most spinal surgeries. Typically, a patient will be able to walk around after one post-operative day, and depending on their specific treatment plan, they may be ready to return to work within a few short weeks of recovery.