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Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF) is a specialized procedure for those suffering from lumbar spine issues such as degenerative disc disease or herniated discs. LLIF offers patients a pathway toward a more active and comfortable life through a minimally invasive spine surgery that fuses two vertebrae in your lower spine to help reduce pain or restore stability.  

If you are experiencing back pain or suspect you may require LLIF surgery, our team of experienced orthopedic surgeons can help diagnose and treat your symptoms. We have offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau and Rockland counties, and New Jersey.  

What is Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion? 

Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion is a minimally invasive spine fusion surgery. Lumbar refers to the section of vertebra along your lower back. These bones in your spine help support most of your vertical column and provide stability when bending over or sitting down. When the discs between these bones become damaged or degraded, the bones may rub together, causing pain when moving and making daily tasks challenging. LLIF surgery aims to reduce this pain by removing the painful disc and replacing it with a spacer that will fuse the two bones permanently. The surgery has several advantages, such as eliminating the painful rubbing of vertebrae and improving stability. 

What is the Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion Procedure Like? 

In a Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery, the surgeon will make an incision along the patient’s side instead of the lower back. This “lateral” approach allows the surgeon to reach the damaged vertebrae without the risk of damaging the delicate nerves nested in your lower back. 

A tubular retractor is placed to maintain a clear view of the spine and the targeted disc. The damaged disc is then carefully removed and replaced with a meticulously measured custom spacer. This spacer often resembles a cage filled with bone graft material to promote bone growth and fusion between the two vertebrae. 

The fusion process is also sometimes supported by the insertion of screws and rods in a process called internal fixation. These screws or rods will not only hold the vertebrae together as they heal but will provide added stability to the spine. This immobilization is critical for healing and may be accompanied by a brace for added security.  

What Does Recovery Look Like After an LLIF Surgery? 

Recovery from LLIF surgery typically involves a short hospital stay followed by restricted activity. As previously mentioned, you may need to wear a brace and use assistive devices like crutches or walkers during the healing process. Your doctor will also prescribe physical therapy, which should start soon after surgery. While recovery varies, it usually ranges between 3 to 6 months, and progress is measured in gradual improvements to movement and strength. 

Are There Any Risks Associated with LLIF Surgery? 

As with any surgery, there are inherent risks to spine fusion surgery. Your doctor will communicate these risks to you before your surgery, but some of the most common side effects include:

  • Leg weakness or numbness can manifest as a reduced ability to move or feel sensation in your legs and can be caused by nerve damage.  
  • Anterior thigh pain, which occurs as a sharp pain on the front of the thigh, is usually temporary and not due to injury but rather the surgical approach. 
  • Vascular injury, although infrequent, can occur and usually presents close to the surgical site and can lead to bleeding or hematoma. 
  • Complications from anesthesia include nausea, vomiting, sore throat, or, in rare cases, more severe effects like allergic reactions. However, these complications are typically preventable. 

Although serious complications are uncommon, if you experience severe side effects like excessive bleeding or debilitating pain, consult your doctor immediately.  

Frequently Asked Questions About LLIF Surgery 

What is the success rate of LLIF Surgery? 

LLIF has a high success rate in improving lower back pain and restoring mobility, with many patients experiencing significant relief from symptoms and improved quality of life post-surgery. 

How does LLIF compare to other treatment options? 

LLIF is a minimally invasive spine surgery, offering quicker recovery times, less muscle damage, and potentially fewer complications than traditional open spine surgery. It’s particularly effective for certain spinal conditions like degenerative disc disease. 

Who is a candidate for LLIF Surgery? 

Candidates for LLIF Surgery typically suffer from conditions like degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, or herniated discs and have not found relief through non-surgical treatments. If you’re looking for lower back pain treatment, contact a NY Ortho office today to schedule a consultation. 

NY Orthopedics Spine Surgery Specialists 

NY Orthopedics has multiple sports medicine offices in New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, as well as the surrounding counties, including Nassau, Westchester, and Rockland. NY Orthopedics surgeons are also well-versed in addressing issues with the knees, hips, feet, and shoulders. To learn more about our services or make an appointment, contact us today! 

Our Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion Specialists

Dr. Firas M. Chamas, Spine Surgeon
Firas M. Chamas, M.D.
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Dr. Sergai N. DeLaMora
Sergai N. DeLaMora, M.D.
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Dr. Christopher F.X. Riegler
Christopher F.X. Riegler, M.D.
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