Lateral lumbar interbody fusion involves joining two or more vertebrae together so that bone can grow in between the space. This is an option for those who have experienced vertebral damage or disc degeneration. During LLIF, you will be operated on laterally (through the side). The affected discs will be removed and replaced with a spacer, allowing the spine to return to normal curvature while bone growth is promoted where the discs were.

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Why might a doctor recommend spine surgery?

There are a number of reasons why a doctor might recommend spine surgery. In general, surgery is performed to eliminate instability or nerve compression in the back due to degenerated discs and/or facet joints. Disc degeneration results in a lack of proper spacing between the discs, which can cause severe and debilitating pain. Other conditions that might require surgery are the slippage of one vertebra over another or a change in the normal curvature of the spine – including scoliosis and other extreme curvatures of the spine.

Anterior/posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion:

Anterior/posterior lumbar interbody fusion involves the removal of one or more intervertebral discs and the joining of two or more spinal bones (vertebrae) together using screws and a cage.

What is Anterior/posterior lumbar interbody fusion?

A spinal fusion is a surgical procedure which results in two or more bones being joined together in a solid and stable fashion by bridges of bone between them. The aim is to stop movement across that particular segment of the spine.

In an anterior/posterior procedure, your surgeon will operate from the side of your body (lateral approach) and go through the lateral muscles (psoas) to reach your spine.

He will remove the diseased disc(s) (discectomy) and replace it with an implant called a spacer to restore the disc height and allow bone to grow between your vertebrae.

In addition, your surgeon may make a second incision and insert screws and rods through the back (posterior approach).

What are the key advantages to the Anterior/Posterior technique?

The anterior/posterior approach does not require dissection or retraction of the sensitive back muscles, bones, ligaments, or nerves and allows for more complete disc removal and implant insertion as compared with traditional posterior procedures. Nor does lateral access require the delicate abdominal exposure or present the same risk of vascular injury as traditional anterior approaches. As a result, operating time is often reduced, patient blood loss is minimized, and recovery time is significantly shorter.