XLIF Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion


The Axial Lumbar Interbody Fusion is a minimally invasive surgery performed under general anesthesia. The surgical procedure removes portions of a diseased or damaged disc in the lumbar spine. A device is later implanted into its place to secure one or more vertebrae to the sacrum. This spine pain relief approach is typically used to treat back pain caused by a degenerative disc between the lowest lumbar vertebra (L5) and the top of the sacrum (S1).


The patient is anesthetized before the procedure and places in a face down position to provide access to the lower back. The area is then cleaned and sterilized.

Creating the Incision

The surgeon will create a tiny incision next to the tailbone, formally known as the coccyx. The procedure will be performed through this small incision, further avoiding the need to cut through any major muscles, tendons or nerves.

Accessing the Damaged Disc

Using fluoroscopic guidance, the physician pushes a series of dilation tubes along the tailbone and the front of the sacrum. Next, the physician inserts a drill through the tube and uses it to create a channel in the upper portion of the sacrum to reveal the center of the damaged disc.

Clearing the Damaged Disc

Specialized surgical tools are pushed into the disc, broken apart and removed through the dilation tube. The hollow center of the disc is then filled with regenerative bone growth material.

Stabilizing the Spine

The physician pushes the drill back through the dilation tube and creates a channel into the vertebra above the damaged disc. The 3D axial rod is then threaded into the vertebra. As the rod is twisted, it lifts the vertebra, restoring any height that was lost because of the collapsed disc.

Further Stabilization

After the rod is successfully implanted, the physician may choose to further stabilize the spine by implanting screws through the facet joints or the pedicles of the affected vertebra in a minimally invasive fashion.

End of Procedure

All surgical instruments are removed, and the incision is closed with sutures. Patients can leave the hospital the next day.

After Care

During the next few months, the bone growth material inserted into the treated area will cause the vertebra and disc to fuse to the sacrum. Patients should avoid lifting, bending and any athletic activity for 6 to 12 weeks after the procedure.

Spine Care in Illinois

Degenerative conditions of the spine must be treated immediately once found. After an experienced physician has provided an accurate diagnosis, patients at the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute will receive a personalized plan of action before any spine treatment begins. Contact IBJI today for Illinois’ most comprehensive orthopedic assistance today.