Why Would You Need Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a surgical procedure that addresses various spinal conditions that affect the lower back (lumbar spinal area). LLIF involves accessing the spine from the side rather than from the back or front and fusing one or more vertebrae using a bone graft.
If you are having spinal problems, partner with a medical professional you can trust with your spinal health. At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, you can know that your treatment is in the experienced and compassionate hands. Our medical professionals and patient advocates are ready to work with you to understand your injury and its impact on your life as we determine the best treatment plan uniquely tailored for you.

Which Conditions Require Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a surgical procedure for treating lower spine conditions. These may include:

  • Degenerative disc disease: The disease occurs when the discs between the vertebrae in the spine break down, causing pain and discomfort. LLIF can be used to remove the damaged disc and fuse the adjacent vertebrae to stabilize the spine.
  • Herniated disc: Herniation happens when the inner portion of the disc pushes through the outer layer and compresses nearby nerves. LLIF can be used to remove and replace the damaged disc with a bone graft, which can alleviate nerve compression and reduce pain.
  • Spinal stenosis: This condition causes the spinal canal to narrow, putting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. LLIF can be used to remove the damaged disc and decompress the spinal canal by fusing adjacent vertebrae.
  • Spondylolisthesis: This occurs when one vertebra slips out of alignment with the adjacent vertebrae, causing instability and nerve compression. LLIF can be used to fuse the affected vertebrae and stabilize the spine.

Lateral lumbar interbody fusion is a minimally-invasive procedure that can offer several advantages over traditional spinal fusion techniques, including less pain, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery times. However, it is vital to discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure with a qualified spinal surgeon to determine if it is the best option for your particular condition.

Who Is an Eligible Candidate for Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Candidates for LLIF are typically individuals who have not responded well to non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy, medication, and injections. It may also be the best option if you’re experiencing persistent lower back pain and other symptoms that significantly affect your daily life.

Patients need to undergo a thorough evaluation by a spine specialist to determine if LLIF is the appropriate treatment for their specific condition. Factors such as the severity of the disease, the patient’s age, and overall health must be considered when determining candidacy for LLIF.

Does LLIF Have Risks?

Like any surgical procedure, LLIF carries certain risks, including:

  • Nerve injury: During LLIF surgery, the nerves that run alongside the spinal column may be damaged, resulting in numbness, weakness, or paralysis in the legs, hips, or buttocks.
  • Vascular injury: The blood vessels that supply the spinal column can be injured during LLIF surgery, leading to bleeding or other complications. Surgeons take steps to minimize this risk, including careful planning and imaging before surgery.
  • Infection: Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection, and LLIF is no exception. You can take antibiotics and other preventive measures to minimize this risk.
  • Instrumentation failure: The screws and other hardware used to stabilize the spine during LLIF surgery can sometimes break or become dislodged, leading to the need for revision surgery or other complications.
  • Persistent pain: Some patients experience persistent pain following LLIF surgery, which may require additional treatment or revision surgery.

It is crucial for patients to discuss these risks and potential complications with their surgeon before undergoing LLIF surgery. After surgery, patients should carefully follow post-operative instructions to minimize the risk of complications.

Recovery From Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Recovery from surgery is generally a gradual process that can take several months, but the following steps can help promote healing and reduce the risk of post-surgery complications:

  • Follow your surgeon’s instructions: Your surgeon will provide detailed instructions on caring for yourself after surgery.
  • Practice good posture: Maintain good posture to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your spine. You may need a back brace or corset to support your spine while it heals.
  • Stay active: Doing gentle exercises to promote blood flow and general health is crucial.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help promote healing and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Attend follow-up appointments: Regular appointments with your surgeon are crucial to monitor your progress and ensure you’re healing properly.

Recovery from LLIF surgery can be lengthy, but following your doctor’s instructions and taking good care of yourself can help promote healing and reduce the risk of complications.

Schedule an Appointment With NJ Spine & Orthopedic

Our spine specialists at NJ Spine & Orthopedic have extensive experience treating various spine conditions and are committed to ensuring safety and comfort during surgery and post-surgery. We go out of our way to employ innovative techniques to help patients embark on pain-free lives.

You could not have been in better hands with our patient-first approach and high-quality services. Schedule an appointment by calling us at (866) 553-0612 or filling out our contact form today.

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