When you are considering back surgery as a solution to your chronic back pain, we know there are many options to consider. Through The Better Way Back® program, we want to help by providing information, education, and support. Please know that while this website provides information about many different non-surgical and surgical options, it is not meant to replace any personal conversations that you should have with your physician or other members of your healthcare team.

Not all the information here will apply to your individual treatment or its outcome. The information is intended to answer some of your questions and serve as a guideline for you to ask your healthcare team appropriate questions about the procedure.

This article gives an overview of the XLIF procedure, and will help you, along with your physician, determine if it’s right for you.

What is the XLIF procedure?
The XLIF procedure is a minimally disruptive surgical procedure performed through the side of the body. It is designed to treat a range of spinal conditions. Using patented nerve monitoring technology, the surgeon gains lateral (side) access to the spinal column, helping to avoid any major nerves in the area between the incision and the column. The XLIF procedure does not require an anterior (front) or posterior (back) exposure, and thereby does not present the same risks of vascular and/or neural injury as traditional approaches.

Is XLIF right for me?
If you require spinal surgery, your physician may determine that the XLIF procedure is a good option for you. Some examples of conditions that may be ideal for the XLIF procedure include:

  • Degenerated discs and/or facet joints that cause unnatural motion and pain
  • Slippage of one vertebra over another (Degenerative spondylolisthesis secondary to advanced degenerative disc disease)
  • Change in the normal curvature of the spine (Degenerative scoliosis secondary to advanced degenerative disc disease)

Alternately, your physician may determine that an XLIF procedure is not a good option for you. It is important to discuss this with your physician in order to determine the best course of treatment for you.

What are the potential benefits of having an XLIF procedure?

  • Reduced operative time
  • Less blood loss during surgery
  • Reduced hospital stay
  • Reduced postoperative recovery time
  • Smaller incision

Are there risks involved?
Keep in mind that all surgical procedures present risks and complications that are important to discuss with your surgeon prior to your procedure. Listening to your physician’s guidance, both before and after surgery, will help to ensure the best possible outcome from your procedure.

Potential risks following XLIF surgery include: problems with anesthesia, infection, nerve damage, problems with the graft or hardware, and ongoing pain. This is not intended to be a complete list of the possible complications. Please contact your physician to discuss all potential risks.

What else can I do to help my decision regarding back surgery?
In addition to consulting with your physician and medical teams, it often helps to speak to someone who has been through the procedure. To connect with a Patient Ambassador who has already had an XLIF, please complete our request form.

You may also download our patient brochure for more information about the procedure.