Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is a minimally invasive technique that is used to relieve back or leg pain. LLIF is performed from the side (lateral), which can lessen damage to your back muscles, ligaments, and blood vessels. Your low back is a common source of pain because it carries the largest amount of your body weight. LLIF stabilizes the spine and alleviates pain by relieving pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. Common lumbar diseases that are treated with LLIF include degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, adult scoliosis, and spondylolisthesis.
Typically, a small incision is made on the side and a special tube-shaped retractor is placed on top of the spine. The diseased disc is removed with special instruments. The empty space with filled with a spacer and bone graft to stabilize and fuse the spine.
As LLIF is a minimally invasive procedure, post-surgical pain is significantly lesser than traditional open surgery. Recovery is often much faster as well.