Pain After Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion
There are a limited number of ways to perform spinal fusion techniques, especially in the lumbar spine. Of the types of spinal fusions one such technique, known as extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF, for short), is one of the newest techniques.
Although it has mixed reviews among surgeons, it is often the procedure of choice for patients because it is the only procedure that is minimally invasive, which means it requires a much smaller incision and does not require access to internal organs.
XLIF can be a very effective form of lumbar fusion, with an 85% success rate. But 15% of patients may suffer from pain after spinal surgery – either the same pain they struggled with before surgery, or a new type of pain. If the patient has severe or chronic pain after surgery, they may be struggling with failed XLIF.
Introduction to Failed XLIF
Most spinal fusions are performed by accessing the spine from the back (known as posterior spinal fusion). Other surgeons strongly prefer accessing the spine from the front of the abdomen (known as anterior spinal fusion).
With XLIF, the surgeon enters the spine from the side, rather than the front or back. It can also be completed with minimally invasive tools, using only two very small incisions and an endoscope for minimal scarring and faster recovery. The time to perform the procedure is also much shorter than other forms of spinal fusion, and causes less blood loss. It can be used to treat many different conditions of the spine, including:
- Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)
- Recurrent Disc Herniation
- Spinal Stenosis, and More
But although XLIF can be a very useful surgical technique for back pain, it is not perfect. A small, but not insignificant number of patients may be at risk for moderate to severe pain after recovery.
The cause of the pain can be very different between patients. Possible causes of pain after XLIF spine surgery include, but are not limited to:
- Surgical Error
- Incomplete Disc Removal
- Poor Patient Selection/Greater Than Expected Degenerative Spondylolisthesis
- Failed Spinal Fusion
- Hardware Failure
- Nerve Root Injury and More
With all spine surgeries, there are several distinct issues that can all lead to the recurrence of back and leg pain, from the development of scar tissue to degeneration of the adjacent segments located near the surgical site. Some causes of pain are structural in nature. Other failed XLIF may be the result of something non-structural.
It is because of all of these different possibilities that thorough analysis is necessary.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Failed XLIF
Patients that have exhibited signs of failed XLIF should strongly consider examination and diagnosis from an expert in failed back surgery, such as Dr. Julio Petilon, Dr. James L. Chappuis and his team at Spine Center Atlanta.
Failed XLIF can be treated. If it is a structural issue, treatment may be a new and more effective strategy for lumbar fusion, the removal or installation of hardware, disc replacement surgery, or one of several techniques for addressing the challenges that led to your failed fusion.
We’ll also explore conservative treatments first, to see if there is a successful way to manage or eliminate pain without revision surgery. This is especially useful if the cause is non-structural, as our goal is to avoid any unnecessary surgery.
Spine Center Atlanta is a nationally recognized leader in failed back surgery (FBSS) treatment, including failed XLIF. We see patients from across the United States, as a medical tourist destination for failed back surgery treatments. If you underwent XLIF and you have pain that is coming back, consider calling us today at 404-351-5812.