Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF)
A variety of techniques exist for fusing lumbar spine vertebrae to help alleviate back pain. Lateral access spine surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that accesses the spine from incisions on the side of the body. This procedure avoids separating the low back muscles, cutting bone, or moving aside blood vessels as required for other minimally invasive spine fusion procedures (PLIF, TLIF, ALIF). Lateral access spine surgery can treat a variety of conditions including herniations, asymmetric disc degeneration (degenerative scoliosis), nerve impingement, certain tumors, and as discussed in this animation, instability and pain resulting from disc degeneration. When treating this source of back and leg pain, most of the disc is removed, a spacer is used to restore proper disc height, and bone grafts are added to fuse the adjacent vertebrae, restoring stability. This procedure is commonly called the Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion, or LLIF.