XLIF, or eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion, is an advanced, minimally invasive and minimally disruptive approach for spinal fusion. In this procedure, UPMC neurosurgeons access the spine from the side of the body instead of from the front or back, as in traditional open procedures.
Patients treated using this procedure often experience shorter operative times, shorter hospitalizations, and shorter recoveries, while achieving similar success in pain relief when compared to traditional open surgeries. This technique is useful for a variety of spinal conditions including: degenerative disc disease, stenosis, spondylolisthesis, recurrent disc herniation, and scoliosis.
Many patients are eligible for this innovative minimally invasive surgery, which often can:
- Minimize complications
- Relieve pain by providing decompression of the nerves
- Optimize spinal balance
- Achieve a solid fusion
To correct the alignment of the spine, neurosurgeons replace the damaged areas with height-restoring cages and biological agents. This minimally invasive approach not only limits the surgical scars, but also the blood loss, pain, and many of the complications associated with the large incisions that have traditionally been used.