What is an Oblique Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: July 25, 2017

Lumbar Fusion Surgery

When it comes to spine surgery, medical experts are always looking for new ways make the procedure less taxing on the patient all while improving surgical success rates. One specific operation that is continually being evaluated is the spinal fusion operation.

Recently, a new procedure called an oblique lateral lumbar interbody fusion has been tested as a new way to make the incision site during a spinal fusion operation even smaller. Below, we explain how the procedure is performed, and why it is revolutionizing the spinal fusion operation.

OLLIF Spine Surgery

An OLLIF procedure takes advantage of the naturally occurring space on the side of your spinal discs. This area, often referred to as Cambin’s Triangle, is a triangular space that is free of nerves or other vascular structures. Through this space, a surgeon can access the problemed disc.

The procedure begins with the anesthetized patient lying on their stomach. The surgeon then inserts a small probe into the spinal disc by through a tiny opening made on the side area of your back. Once the probe is in place, a 9mm dilator is inserted to help ensure the disc is dilated for the procedure. Next, a 10mm tube is inserted, and through this tube the diseased or damaged spinal disc is removed.

Once the disc is removed, bone graft material is inserted through the same tube. This bone graft substance fills the void left by the spinal disc. The tube is then removed, and a small biodegradable implant is inserted into the bone graft material. This implant helps the disc maintain adequate spacing and height while the bone graft solidifies. After the graft solidifies, the two vertebrae that were separated by the spinal disc are now one solid bone. There’s a chance the doctor may also perform what’s known as a posterior fixation with pedicle screws to add extra support and strength to the fusion site.

What’s most interesting is that the incision site for the OLLIF procedure is smaller than a dime. Not only does this mean you won’t be dealing with an ugly surgical scar, but you’ll also have reduced healing times and a decreased risk of complications. It also takes half the time as a traditional open fusion operation, and many patients can walk shortly after the bone graft has solidified.

Minnesota Spine Surgeon

An OLLIF procedure can be performed for a number of different spinal conditions. It has already been successfully administered for patients dealing with conditions like scoliosis, bulging or herniated discs, degenerative disc disease, facet joint disease or foraminal stenosis. If you’re dealing with any of the above conditions, or if you’ve been told that you could benefit from a spinal fusion operation, ask your doctor about the oblique lumbar lateral interbody fusion operation. For more information about the procedure, or to talk to a spine surgeon about your back pain, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi today.

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