A lateral lumbar interbody fusion is an interbody fusion that takes place from an incision from the patients flank. This approach allows the surgeon to reach the vertebrae and intervertebral disks without moving the nerves or opening up muscles in the back.
During the procedure, the patient is placed in the side position and the table is bent to provide the surgeon with a maximum view of the spine. The disk is removed and a cage packed with bone graft is inserted between the vertebrae. Titanium screws are used to hold the cage in place and in some cases an additional incision is made on the back to insert the screws.
Some advantages of Lateral Lumber Interbody Fusion are as follows:
- Less damage to the midline back muscles
- Easier access to the spine, in many cases
- Improved alignment of the spinal bones