Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLIF)

Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLIF)

An OLIF is a surgical technique for spinal problems that minimizes cutting to muscles and uses a single port to access the disc space, fill it with bone material and then fuse the bones of the lumbar spine. This can be performed as a Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) technique. The number of established surgeons beginning to offer MIS OLIF is rapidly increasing by around 10% every year.

When is an OLIF required?

If a patient is not responding to conservative treatments and quality of life is affected, then surgery may be the next step. Those suffering back pain from Degenerative Disc Disease, disc herniations, stenosis, spondylolisthesis and scoliosis can be candidates for OLIF surgery. Spondylolisthesis is a forward slippage of one of the vertebral bones in your spine onto the one below it. Back pain is the leading cause of reduced activity levels in people under the age of 45 and is the third most common reason for surgeries in the United States.

How is a Minimally Invasive OLIF Performed?

A 10-millimeter diameter surgical port is introduced to allow access of Kambin’s triangle (see diagram above for red triangle) without the need to cut through the psoas muscle. Through Kambin’s triangle, the disc is removed and then packed with either the patient’s own bone graft, or a synthetic bone growth matrix. A cage or support structure is inserted prior to fixating the disk to the disk beneath it. Bi-directional fluoroscopy or real-time X-Rays aid the procedure. Our specialist Dr. Tayard is a surgeon instructor and specialises in OLIF at all levels of the Lumbar Spine by minimally invasive approach (as opposed to open surgery).

Benefits of Minimally Invasive OLIF Vs. ‘Open’ Fusion Techniques

• There is no need for neuromonitoring to assess for nerve trauma
• No repositioning of the patient
• Technically easier procedure (shorter learning curves for the surgeon)
• Reduces surgical time
• Less anesthesia because of shorter operating times
• No muscle or soft tissue cutting
• Less risk of nerve damage
• Less risk of bleeding
• Does not require a portion of the bone (facet) to be removed because it relies on dilation of the space instead
• Less risk of blood clots due to shorter procedure time
• Less wound infections compared to ALIF
• Less exposure to radiation (fluoroscopy)
• Quicker release from the hospital

Possible risks of OLIF Surgery

• Possibility of having to convert to an open procedure
• Nerve Damage
• Damage to surrounding tissue
• Instrument malfunction
• Non-fusion as in ‘failure’

Is a Minimally Invasive OLIF right for me?

Spine surgeons around the world have different training, experience, available technologies and even philosophy. Ultimately a patient may not be a candidate for the procedure they have researched and chosen, or a different surgery may be more suitable. If you have been advised for spine surgery, we encourage you to receive and compare multiple specialist opinions. You are welcome to enquire with us today and we will guide you through an evaluation with our independent spine specialists.