The XLIF Experts

eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) generally treats leg or back pain caused by degenerative disc disease. Note: in this case, the word “eXtreme” does not mean “dangerous” or “risky,” as in “extreme sports.” Rather, it refers to the location of the body through which the surgeon performs the surgery – the “lateral extreme or side” of the body.


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What is a XLIF?

eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF) procedure relieves pain and increases spinal stability by removing the damaged portion of a spinal disc and replacing it with a bone graft.

XLIF Procedure Essentials

Patient Satisfaction. Very High
Does It Require an Overnight Stay? Sometimes. It depends on a few factors
Incision Size. Less than an inch
Recovery Details. Walking the day of the surgery, back to work or play in a couple weeks to a couple months

Physicians Who Perform XLIF

North American Spine partner physicians are board-certified, minimally invasive specialists in XLIF and other related procedures. They are among the best in the field, and many have served as teachers of the next generation of minimally invasive specialists.


Unlike at most practices, North American Spine partner physicians may collaborate on a complex procedure to ensure that all the required skill and knowledge is brought to the case. But perhaps the most telling fact of all is this: 97% of patients say they would recommend their doctor to a friend.



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Benefits of the XLIF

XLIF provides significant benefits when compared to more invasive procedures. Most important, the bone graft adds stability and will induce the body to grow more bone around the implant, which increases stability yet further. Additional benefits include reduced bleeding during and after the procedure, smaller incisions at the site of the procedure, smaller scars in the aftermath of the procedure, reduced levels of post-surgical pain or discomfort, and a more rapid return to normal physical activity.


Compared to traditional, “open” surgeries, which require long incisions, the minimally invasive approach used by North American Spine physicians results in less surgical trauma, less bone and tissue damage, and results in fewer complications and a reduced recovery period. Note: we do see patients whose previous spine surgeries are no longer providing them the relief they need.

Details of the XLIF

During the XLIF procedure, your surgeon will begin by making one small incision in your side, through which surgical instruments and tiny microscopes can enter. Using neuromonitoring to ensure that no nerve damage occurs, your surgeon will remove the damaged portion of the disc, freeing the entrapped nerve, and replace the space where the disc material was with a bone graft.

Preparing for the XLIF


Before pursuing an XLIF, prospective patients should have tried conservative methods, such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and spinal injections. If those methods have not produced meaningful relief, you may be a candidate for a North American Spine procedure.

XLIF Recovery

XLIF is typically an inpatient procedure, meaning patients will stay 1-3 nights in the surgery center. Recovery, however, is quite rapid in comparison to traditional open back surgery. Patients will be walking the same day of surgery and performing light activity within a few weeks. More in-depth, customized recovery guidelines will be provided by your North American Spine physician. The vast majority of patients report a significant and lasting reduction of their pre-op symptoms.


While every surgery carries some risk of injury or infection, complications are rare. Your physician will counsel you on these risks prior to the procedure.