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Has anyone had XLIF? At more than one level?

lstellerllsteller Posts: 1,428
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:23 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am jumping the gun a bit here, but I will most likely be having a three level fusion in November. I don't even know if XLIF (fusion done through small incisions in the patient's side) is an option for me, but since it prevents slicing through back muscles, I thought I would request it. Have any of you had the XLIF done? At more than one level? I have three badly torn discs, L4-S1, and, of course, I am looking for the least invasive, most pain free (as if that's possible) way of doing this. I have seen my surgeon and am going in for a full-spine MRI this Thursday to assess the whole situation before we discuss surgical options. I have a feeling I'll be in for a much more invasive procedure, but I thought I would ask.

3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.


  • hi,
    bumping this one up.
    i think someone cali sue ???? mabye posted a link to min invasive interbody fusion.
    cool video. and how they can do things. but it was done in the back. not the side.
    i know it takes longer to do, more so then your tradtional surgery.
    now im curious and will try to find out more info.
    when i had my PLIF . on my surgeons website where surgery is explained because of the way i was cut, there was no muscles being cut hmmm. i just read it the other day. so it was just nerves. i will figure that out..

    anyways just wanted to put this up again on the first page so mabye some people can see it. and mabye have some info for ya.

    don't want you to think anyone was ignoring your post.

    take care
  • I don't know if I am recalling correctly, but I thought XLIF
    was only done at L5-S1. The video Terri mentioned is very informative about fusion in general as well as minimally invasive. It really depends on your exact problem as to which way they can fix it, also on your surgeons expertise. My surgeon said he used to do min invasive, but hadn't seen any better outcomes, so his practice is mostly doing open now. He offered to do it min invasive if I wanted, but I said by all means do what you are used to doing. I'll post the cool surgery link for you. Good luck, Sue
  • Hi ... my doctors are also talking about a two level or three level fusion or xlif for me..... i would love any info anyone has about this..... obviously the xlif is less invasive ( a lot less) than the fusion... he didnt know when i spoke to him if a bi- or tri- level could be done at the same time of if they would do one level... heal that level.. and then go in and do the next.......

    im awaiting a SPECT Scan to decide if my l5-s1 which is congentitaly partially fused if part of the problem... im sure that level will decide which of the two procedures i will have... but would love any info any one has.. or if they have gone thru it!!!

  • I have just had a 2 level XLIF and I'm 10 days post op. I have Osteopeno so If I had my way I would have gone with a disc replacement. I am in tremendous pain and whatever you do make sure that you have seen a pain :''( management doctor so your pain is managed after your surgery. Everyone is different but I now have radiopathy on the left side of my "body" which I did not have before but is slowly going away. I spent 7 days in hospital. My stomach became distented so they kept me longer
    I was hit by a car and the driver ruptured L2-S1 and C1-C2

    Hope this helps and good luck
  • You can not have an XLIF if you need L5-S1 done and they do cut you on the side. I have about a 4" scar on my side.
  • You can not have an XLIF if you need L5-S1 done and they do cut you on the side. I have about a 4" scar on my side.
  • There is a great video at Tampa General Hospital that shows the XLIF surgery. http://www.or-live.com/tgh/2330/ It really gives a good look at the surgery. I have been offered 3-level (L1-2,2-3,3-4)so any info would be helpful. Thanks.

  • hi.. was hoping to get more info from people with xlif surgery.. mine is coming up in a few weeks.... will be l3-4 - l4-5
    he said there would be an incision in my side and 6 1 " incisions in my back...... thought the time in the hospital would be less than if having a tlif... from 5-6 days down to 2-3, and the back brace might not be 8 weeks maybe 6...... just wondering what its really gonna be like from someone that has gone thru it
  • Two years ago I had posterior surgery for L2-L3. The recovery was about 6 months and the result was excellent. My surgeon is reputed to be the best in Central Florida. Everywhere I go, medical staff offer up this information. And I believe them. This year I needed L3-L5, and chose to go with XLIF because they said the recovery would be 4-6 weeks instead of 4-6 months.

    It has been 8 weeks and I am still struggeling. I had severe leg pain all the way down to my big toe. They kept me in the hospital for 4 days. At first I could not lift my left leg at all. (This sounds funny, but wasn't at the time...one night my leg fell out of bed. I could not stop it.) Over time, the pain in my foot is better. I can wear shoes now. The pain and numbness in my leg is getting better, but it is taking a LONG time. I cannot measure improvement on a daily basis, only on a weekly basis. Baby steps. The swelling is the problem and I cannot take anti-inflammatories, because they interfere with the fusion process. So I am waiting it out. I can now walk without a cane, but don't dare to do that outside the house, because my left leg is still very weak, and the pain in my leg, side and back are preventing me from giving up the pain meds. I am on Neurontin, Soma (muscle relaxer) and Percocet. I am trying to give them up, but cannot, because of the pain.

    In comparison, I know I am recovering faster than last time, but not as predicted. This is taking a lot longer than they said it would.
  • just read your post........ ugh..... i know sometimes its better not to know..... and you always want to read that people did well with the surgeries... but we are having the exact two same levels done.... the p.a. warned me during my preop appt. that some people have permanent problems with one of there legs... in my case he said it could be right... most people it goes away over time... but its possible because of how close they get to the nerve root........ so that scares me.........

    i was told 4 " incision on my right side.. and i will have 6 one inch incisions in my back for the screws..... 3-4 nights in hospital, and 8 weeks in brace... will have 9 months on the bone stimulator... and 1-2 years for full recovery......... i will get a walking schedule.... and gave met with pain management doc... i guess to start we are doing fentanyl patch and percocet.....

    im scared..... dont like to think about it...... the 2 level hasnt been done where i live...so another surgeon from buffalo is coming in to assist with my surgery.......

    i also just had a total colectomy 10 weeks ago, and needless to say have enough problems with that... so am scared how that will be during this process... as food tends to go right on thru now... and with back surgery its not going to be so easy to get to the bathroom now.... and i have no clue how that will work with the cathedar in the hospital....... the hospital has all the info.... and im anal enough i wont use a bed pan... so have no clue how this will be.......

    i can say of everything i have gone thru... and there has been 5 other surgerys in the last 2.5 years ... i couldnt be more scared than i am for this one.....
  • Hi all, my name is Nate Quarry and I've had an XLIF done at L2-L3. My recovery went so well that I'm now working with Nuvasive, the XLIF people, to help get the word out about XLIF. I had degenerative disk disease at that level. I have an approx 2 inch scar on my left side and about a 2 inch scar directly over the spine where the doctor put in facet screws and a small scar as we opted to take some bone out of my hip to aid in the fusion. What really stands out about my story is that I returned to full activity which for me means fighting in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. (those cage fighting knuckleheads you see on Spike tv) If you go to www.xlif.com you can see some of my story but basically the timeline was this.
    Walking 24 hours after surgery.
    Hospital stay of 6 days, usually patients are out in a couple but due to my graft coming from my hip, I stayed longer. That really was the worst part and now there are artificial bone grafts that can be used.
    At about 2 weeks you could see me working the corner of fellow fighters on Spike tv on a live UFC event.
    2 and a half weeks after surgery I went on a 3 mile hike at Mt. Charleston just outside of Las Vegas where I had my surgery performed.
    3 months I began boxing training.
    6 months to the day I was full sparring and wrestling at my gym.
    15 months postsurgery I had and won my comeback fight live on Spike tv. You can actually purchase this fight at Best Buy. UFC Ultimate Knockouts Volume 6
    Words can't express how grateful I am that I really just kind of lucked out and had the right surgeon that was performing XLIF.
    If you go to the aforementioned website and put in your zip you can find the closest surgeon to you who is performing XLIF. And what I have found is that even if an XLIF isn't right for you, these surgeons are on the cutting edge of spinal treatment and patient care.
    You can find me at www.myspace.com/rockquarry or my website www.nathanquarry.com
    Oh, and I didn't proofread this so excuse any spelling errors. Hope this helps and I'll try to check back here to see if I can help anyone out with my experience.
  • I had a xlif will be 4 weeks ago in two days.. had levels l3-4, l4-5 done., i have a 4 inch incision on my side.. and a 3 inch incision in my center back.

    can give any further information if anyone has an xlif upcoming or wants to compare are recoveries!
  • Hello Everyone,

    There's a lot of good information on this board. I have XLIF surgery coming up next week, May 5th. It's going to be at the L4-5 level. I have lived with excruciating lower back pain on the left side, radiating down through the hip and into my leg and foot, with occassional numbness in the foot. This has gone on for over a year. Tried numerous pain meds and other non-surgical techniques, even accupuncture. All to no avail. This seems to be my only alternative as living with this everyday pain is extremely difficult. I say the video from Tampa General and they completed the surgery in less than an hour. My surgeon said mine would take about 4 hours. What gives? He said he wants to do a thorough job. I thought the XLIF is a shorter procedure. The thought of being put out for this long makes me quite uneasy. The thought of surgery also makes me quite nervous as I've never had it done before. Any input from anyone who is post-op XLIF or getting ready for their surgery would be kindly appreciated.
    I wish you all a quick, speedy and healthy recovery.
  • I have had several traditional TLIF surgeries in the past - mostly not so bad as far as pain and recovery go. I usually get back to work within 5-6 weeks - but I do understand that I am one of those that is very tolerant of pain. Many people are just not as tolerant and I understand that. My next surgery is a choice between the traditional TLIF and XLIF. After reading many of the posts here and on other forums I am not sure that the XLIF is that big of an advantage. My surgeon is pretty straightforward and advises that somewhere between 30 and 35% of XLIF surgeries simply are not successful - for one reason or another. This results in an additional surgery usually within 3 weeks and up to six months later. For those of you that are of the "glass half full" persuasion, I'm not sure that a 65-70% odds of complete success are really that good. It sounds good on the surface, but looked at from the other side of the fence, and hearing some of the failure horror stories, I'm about ready to just go with the proven TLIF procedure. A less than 2 to 1 chance at a little less pain and recovery time just isn't enough to convince me.

    Post edited to remove doctor bashing
    Ron DiLauro, Spine-Health System Administrator 02/19/11

    - it only gets better when you find another surgeon! 4 hours for an XLIF procedure??? Wrong - you have a student doctor. ALWAYS get a 2nd opinion.

    Good luck to you all.
  • Where did your surgeon come up with these numbers? Based solely on how many he has done? How many is that?

    I'd love to see some serious stats to back that up.

    Many of these newer surgeries don't have long time stats so that is obviously a concern. The direction to move almost every surgery to an MIS format is a big win for patient, doctor, hospital, insurance company alike.

    1 doctors opinion is just that.
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