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Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (XLIF)

Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (XLIF) is a minimally invasive form of spinal fusion surgery that stabilizes the spine and corrects severe forms of lumbar spine damage with less tissue damage and downtime than other spinal fusion surgical techniques.

XLIF is not an option for everyone, but if you are a good candidate, XLIF can have you back on your feet by the evening of your surgery and home the next day. XLIF is truly revolutionary in terms of spinal fusion surgery, and Dr. Baig is skilled and experienced in performing it.

When this surgery is done as an open (not minimally invasive) surgery, it is referred to as Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF).

What happens during XLIF?

You’ll be placed under general anesthesia for the procedure and moved onto your side. Dr. Baig will make two small incisions in your side to access the affected vertebrae and insert the surgical instruments. Real-time X-ray imaging and nerve monitoring are used for visualization and to protect spinal nerves. Dr. Baig will remove the damaged spinal disc and replace it with an implant. Bone graft material is used to fuse the vertebrae together for stability. In some cases, screws, plates or rods may be needed.


There are a number of benefits to XLIF surgery, mostly because it is less invasive than more traditional forms of spinal fusion surgery. The main differences are that the spine is accessed through the side of the body rather than the front or the back, and the surgery itself is done through smaller incisions using real-time X-ray imaging and nerve monitoring.

Benefits of XLIF include:

  • Shorter surgery. XLIF surgery can be done in as little as an hour, reducing the amount of time you are under general anesthesia.
  • Less blood loss and scarring. Because the incisions are smaller and no muscle is dissected, you will bleed less. You will also have less noticeable scars.
  • Less pain. By accessing your spine through the side rather than the back, back muscles and ligaments are spared and recovery is significantly quicker and more comfortable.
  • Shorter hospital stay. Many XLIF patients go home the next day, unlike with traditional spinal fusion surgery which requires several days of immobility and hospitalization.
  • Faster recovery. XLIF patients are fully recovered within a few months. Traditional spinal fusion surgery has a recovery period of six months or more.

Am I a candidate for XLIF?

XLIF is an excellent surgical option for several different types of spine damage, including disc degeneration, but it might not be the best option for you. As always, Dr. Baig will not perform any form of back surgery unless he is certain it will help you. A consultation with Dr. Baig is the best way to find an effective treatment plan for your back pain and related symptoms.