New Procedure In Spine Surgery Means Less Back Pain, Shorter Recovery Time
San Francisco spine surgeon Dr. Kenneth Light says a new way to do back surgery means less pain and a much shorter recovery time for patients. The lower back surgery technique, called Extreme Lateral Interbody Fusion, or “X-LIF” is a possible surgical alternative for sufferers of back injuries, painful scoliosis and degenerated spinal disc.
The XLIF procedure can be performed to eliminate instability or nerve compression in the back due to degenerated discs and/or facet joints. Disc degeneration results in a lack of proper spacing between the discs, which can cause severe and debilitating pain. Other conditions that might require surgery are the slippage of one vertebra over another or a change in the normal curvature of the spine – including scoliosis and other extreme curvatures of the spine.
Aside from getting rid of the pain and recovering quickly, the XLIF has other benefits compared to the traditional open back surgery known as standard lumbar fusion. There is less blood loss, the incision is shorter, the operation is quick and the fusion of the spinal disc is better.
In the standard back surgery, it can take six months to a year to fully recover. But this new technique cuts that down to six to eight weeks.
Dr. Light says: "XLIF has opened up the ability for me to do complex spinal surgery in a minimally invasive manner. It means the world for patients to be able to recover in the shortest possible time and return to normal activities.”
The XLIF procedure is what is termed a “minimally disruptive” procedure. This means that instead of a traditional, large, “open” incision, the procedure is performed through one or more small incisions. An instrument, known as a retractor, is used to spread the tissues so that the surgeon can see the spine.
Before the advent of minimally disruptive spine surgery, the spine generally had to be reached through one large incision in the front or back of the body. The advent of minimally disruptive spine surgery allowed surgeons to reach the spine through small incisions (as opposed to a single, large incision). Minimally disruptive surgery is thought to be better for many reasons, including: less tissue trauma, less scarring, shorter hospital stay, and less postoperative discomfort, thereby affording a decreased need for postoperative pain medication.
The XLIF procedure is not only minimally disruptive; it allows the surgeon to access the spine from the side of the body, which inherently means less soft tissue for the surgeon to have to traverse to get to the spine.
Dr. Light’s website: www.drkennethlight.com
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