Interbody Fusion (TLIF/XLIF/ALIF)
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What Is A Interbody Fusion (TLIF/XLIF/ALIF)?
Interbody fusion refers to a surgical procedure that involves the removal of a damaged intervertebral disc and the insertion of a bone graft or an implant into the disc space. This procedure aims to promote fusion (joining) of adjacent vertebrae, creating a solid bone bridge that stabilizes the spine. There are several techniques for interbody fusion, including Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF), Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF), and Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF).
- Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF): TLIF is a posterior approach where the surgeon accesses the spine from the back. It involves removing the entire disc through a small incision, decompressing any pinched nerves, and inserting a bone graft or interbody cage into the disc space. The procedure typically involves the use of screws and rods to stabilize the spine while fusion occurs.
- Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF): XLIF is a lateral approach where the surgeon accesses the spine from the side. It involves making a small incision and creating a pathway through the psoas muscle to access the disc space. The damaged disc is removed, and a bone graft or interbody cage is inserted. This technique avoids disruption of the posterior spinal elements and allows for fusion without the need for posterior screws and rods.
- Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF): ALIF is an anterior approach where the surgeon accesses the spine from the front. It involves making an incision in the abdomen or flank area and retracting the organs to access the spine. The damaged disc is removed, and a bone graft or interbody cage is inserted into the disc space. Additional fixation with screws and rods may be used from a posterior approach to enhance stability.
All these interbody fusion techniques aim to restore disc height, decompress neural structures, and promote spinal fusion to stabilize the spine. The specific approach chosen depends on factors such as the location and extent of the disc pathology, the surgeon’s preference and expertise, and the patient’s overall health. It is important to consult with a qualified spine surgeon to determine the most appropriate surgical technique for an individual case.