Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLIF)
What is OLIF Surgery?
Oblique lumbar interbody fusion or OLIF, for short, is a minimally invasive spinal procedure that involves the removal of damaged intervertebral disc and the vertebral bone. Generally, this procedure is performed in the event of disc damage, disc disease or some type of accident or trauma to the lumbar spine – near the lower back.
OLIF uses an oblique lateral approach which differs from the more conventional anterior (from the front) or posterior (from the back) approach.
Why Do You Need OLIF Surgery?
As with other spinal fusion procedures, the OLIF procedure is performed on a variety of patients to address different needs and concerns of the spine.
Some of the conditions in the lumbar spine which require OLIF surgery include:
- Spinal Stenosis
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Other lumbar spine damage or trauma.
Benefits of the OLIF Surgery
This form of Lumbar Interbody Fusion differs from other forms, as it reaches the damaged intervertebral disc from the side, however, the surgical incision is made along the oblique muscle, this avoids disruption of certain muscles.
The benefits of this approach include:
- Avoids disruption of major back muscles, ligaments, and bones.
- Helps patient’s preserver their back strength.
- Gives the surgeon a perfect approach angle for reaching the lowest vertebra/discs of the spine.
- The incision is only separated from the discs by soft tissue. (little to no major blood vessels or organs)
- Avoids the Pelvic Bone, unlike DLIF.
- Allows for minimal blood loss
- Allows for minimal tissue damage
The OLIF procedure is relatively quick, and is performed as a minimally invasive procedure – using a small incision. An incision is made in the side of your abdomen and soft tissues are carefully separated to reach the lumbar spine. Depending on your specific situation, the damaged vertebral bone or intervertebral disc is partially or totally removed.
Bone graft or a suitable spacer is placed to maintain the intervertebral space and allow the bones to fuse. Screws, rods and plates may be used for additional support. The soft tissues are carefully repositioned, and the incision closed.
During the next few days to weeks, patients will be in recovery, as the bones begin to fuse completely. For some patients a brace might be needed, for added support and comfort. This might also assist in the healing process. Generally, patients can begin normal activities after 2 weeks, but for full healing they will need more than 4-6 weeks.
For more information on this procedure or any other spinal procedure, or to schedule a consultation, contact Dr. Arutyunyan today.