(DLIF) Direct Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Direct Lumbar Interbody Fusion (DLIF)

Conditions Treated by DLIF

Direct Lumbar Interbody Fusion is recommended for patients of degenerative conditions, deformities, and injuries that can lead to spinal instability. If the instability of the spine exerts pressure on the spinal cord or spinal nerves, it can cause back pain, leg pain or muscle weakness.

Benefits of DLIF

DLIF’s benefits stem from the fact that the doctor is approaching the disc from the side rather than from the front or back, and that they are able to do this through a very small, 1-2cm incision in the patient’s side. What’s there is mostly a little bit of muscle and fat, right behind the walls that hold the abdominal contents, it leads directly to the large psoas muscles that are attached to either side of the lumbar spine and overlay the discs. These muscles are large, and their fibers are easy to weave through to get to the side of the disc being treated. No one is making any big incisions or cutting through muscles.

The Procedure

For a minimally invasive DLIF procedure, the patient is positioned on their side on the operating table.  Using an x-ray machine, ensures proper positioning of the vertebra(e) to be treated.

A small incision is made in the skin in the patient’s side, over the midsection of the disc.  A series of tubular dilators is inserted through the soft tissues and fibers of the psoas muscle to create a tiny “tunnel” through which the surgeon may view the spine and perform surgery.

Using minimally invasive surgical techniques, a narrow passageway is created through the underlying soft tissues and the psoas muscle — gently separating the fibers of the psoas muscle rather than cutting through it — directly to the vertebra(e) and disc to be treated. During this step, a neuromonitoring device is used to identify the location of and protect spinal nerve roots.  Through this tubular “portal”, your surgeon will remove all or part of the affected disc (discectomy).  The bone surfaces of the adjacent vertebrae are prepared for fusion.  An interbody device and bone graft are then inserted into the disc space to promote fusion.

The tubular portal is removed and the incision is closed.  It may be necessary to place pedicle screws and rods in the patient’s back using minimally invasive techniques. This instrumentation is intended to provide additional stabilization while the bone heals or “fuses.”

More Information

If you have questions about spinal stenosis or the minimally invasive spine procedures offered by DISC of Louisiana, please contact us to schedule an evaluation at one of our clinics across the south Louisiana region.

DISC of Louisiana Locations

New Orleans | Hammond | Slidell | Covington | Metairie | Baton Rouge | Gonzales

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