Man experiencing lower back pain, holding his back in discomfort

After trying non-invasive pain management techniques, interbody fusion has historically been the next step in standard treatment for chronic lower back pain. If you are suffering from back pain, talk with your doctor about oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF). OLIF is a newer fusion technique that mitigates the limitations and complications associated with some other types of interbody fusion. The spinal specialists at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery can help you figure out the best plan of treatment for your back pain.

What Types of Lower Back Conditions and Injuries Qualify Someone for OLIF?

The five lumbar vertebrae in your spine are larger and thicker than the other vertebrae in the spinal column, likely because of their function. Lumbar vertebrae stabilize the body, support much of the body’s weight, and serve as the attachment point for many ligaments and muscles that allow people to walk, run, sit, lift, and move their bodies in multiple directions.

Any condition that impacts the lumbar, causes pain, and impedes movement could qualify someone for OLIF. This is especially true when a patient does not respond to non-invasive treatments and their quality of life suffers. Common conditions that lead doctors to recommend OLIF include degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, stenosis, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis.

How Do Florida Spine Surgeons Perform an Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Traditional spinal fusion procedures require surgeons to strip the muscles and ligaments during surgery. During OLIF, surgeons use a lateral approach to perform the fusion, which involves entering through the oblique (waist muscle). Avoiding the pelvic bone prevents surgeons from having to strip the soft tissues and allows them to reach each vertebra in the lumbar region of the spinal column.

After entry, surgeons will remove the damaged disc or bone and replace it with a bone graft or spacer. In some cases, patients might also need screws, rods, or plates to stabilize the region. Once surgeons insert a cage or support structure, the bones can be fused together.

Patients who undergo OLIF typically must stay in the hospital for a short time to heal. Recovery involves wearing a back brace to offer support until a patient rebuilds their back strength.

What Are the Benefits of OLIF vs. Other Types of Spinal Fusion?

Oblique lumbar interbody fusion has several benefits compared to other types of spinal fusion. Many of these benefits occur because OLIF is minimally invasive as opposed to an “open” procedure. They include:

  • OLIF does not require neuromonitoring to assess potential nerve trauma.
  • Surgeons do not need to reposition the patient during surgery.
  • Patients spend less time in surgery, which also means less anesthesia.
  • Surgeons do not need to strip or cut muscles or other soft tissues during the procedure.
  • Patients who undergo OLIF have a lower risk of nerve damage and blood clots.
  • Surgeons do not have to remove a portion of bone during OLIF.
  • Patients are less likely to contract a wound infection.
  • Patients can leave the hospital sooner and typically heal faster than they would with a traditional spinal fusion procedure.

The benefits of OLIF make it an attractive option for those who suffer from lower back pain. The best way to determine if you are a candidate is to contact OLSS to discuss your back pain and diagnoses and learn about your treatment options.

What Are the Risks of OLIF?

Although OLIF is minimally invasive and has several benefits, it does come with a few risks. They include:

  • If complications occur during the procedure, your surgeon might have to convert to an open procedure.
  • Although reduced, OLIF still carries a risk for nerve damage.
  • Patients risk damage to tissue surrounding their lumbar vertebrae.
  • Instruments can malfunction during the procedure and potentially lead to complications.
  • The procedure could fail with an unsuccessful fusion.

Each OLIF candidate has a distinctive medical history and physiological characteristics that impact their risks during surgery. Your surgeon can evaluate your condition, determine if you are a candidate for surgery, and discuss the risks that are specific to your situation.

Contact the Experienced Florida Spine Doctors at Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery Today

Orthopedic & Laser Spine Surgery offers minimally-invasive spinal treatments, including OLIF, to people suffering back pain throughout Florida. We will work with you every step of the way to make sure you get the treatment that works best for your needs and symptoms.

Our doctors are committed to providing the best care and treatment to patients with back pain while employing the least invasive techniques. Contact us online or at (855) 853-6542 to learn more about oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF) and if you might be a candidate.

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