Who Is a Good Candidate For XLIF?
Chronic back problems and discomfort can negatively impact your quality of life and make completing even everyday tasks difficult and painful. Extreme lateral lumbar interbody fusion, or XLIF®, is a promising solution for individuals who experience lower back and leg pain that is the result of certain types of spinal degeneration or deformities.
Why Would I Need XLIF®?
At St. Charles Spine Institute, XLIF® is a preferred remedy for patients whose pain stems from specific spinal issues. The following are some conditions where XLIF® may be recommended:
Degenerative Disc Disease: Between the vertebrae in your spine, you have small discs that provide cushioning shock absorption for your spine and prevent the bones from grinding against one other. Degenerative disc disease is a condition in which these discs begin to deteriorate. Contrary to its name, it is not a specific disease. Instead, it refers to the condition of degeneration, which can be caused by age, and by wear and tear from excessive weight, repetitive lifting, and other activities that exert pressure on the spinal column. This wear and tear can result in the disc tearing, rupturing, or herniating, which can pinch nerves and cause pain, numbness, weakness, and instability.
Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the space in your spinal column narrows abnormally. This narrowing of the canal where your spinal cord runs can impinge on the nerves, causing pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness. Spinal stenosis is not itself a disease, but a condition, and may stem from a number of causes.
Spondylolisthesis: Spondylolisthesis describes one bone slipping or shifting in the spinal column over another bone. It is not the same as a slipped disc (hernia). When vertebrae shift, there is uncomfortable friction in your spine, and it is easy to sustain an injury during movement. Spondylolisthesis can cause pain in the lower back, buttocks, and legs, and may affect bladder and bowel control.
Adult Degenerative Scoliosis: Scoliosis refers to curvature of the spine. When viewed from behind, a spine should be straight; with scoliosis, the spine curves. In adults, this is often caused by degenerative disc disease. It can cause numbness, weakness, and shooting pain, as well as chronic back pain that is often only relieved by lying down.
An Innovative Solution to Back Pain
XLIF® is recommended for people who experience these conditions in the lower, or lumbar, region of the spine. XLIF® is a minimally invasive surgery that is performed as an outpatient procedure.
The patient is placed on his or her side. The surgeon will make two small incisions, one for a probe, and the other for guiding surgical instruments. The probe is used to create a channel for the surgical instruments to be inserted. After identifying the damaged area of the spine, the vertebrae that are pinching the nerve are decompressed. The surgeon will then remove the damaged disc, and replace it with an implant “cage” that contains bone graft. The cage separates the vertebrae to relieve the nerves from being impinged. After the surgery, the two vertebrae will fuse together, providing stability to the spine.
XLIF® has many advantages as a means for remedying degenerative disc problems. Because it is minimally invasive, recovery time is relatively quick and there is little scarring. It is also very effective: over 95% of patients find that XLIF® relieves their pain, even if they have struggled with spine issues for a long time and were unable to relieve it using less invasive therapies.
After XLIF® surgery, patients can usually walk on the same day they receive the procedure. To fully heal, they will likely need some physical therapy. As the fusion progresses and they improve their strength, they will eventually be able to resume regular activities, with only a slight reduction to their range of motion. However, most patients consider that a small sacrifice to make to relieve them from chronic pain and weakness. Even if you have not been able to obtain relief using other methods, you shouldn’t give up hope that there is a remedy for your back pain or discomfort. To find out if XLIF® or any other procedures may be the answer for your back problem, contact St Charles Spine Institute today. We look forward to answering your questions.