I'm facing a possible date with the surgeon next month for a so-called XLIF procedure, or extreme lateral interbody fusion. I've read some posts here that give it mixed reviews, with the biggest concern apparently being post-operative nerve damage and muscle pain.
On the other hand, it seems like a less invasive surgery than traditional open back surgery or PLIF, so there's some distinct advantages for me. It would be my third spine surgery. The first two were a 360-degree instrumented fusion from L4-S1 plus laminectomy and foraminotomy.
Almost two years after that major two-stage operation, I'm in worse pain than ever. The problem is clearly at the adjacent level (L3-L4), where the disc is severely protruded and the facet joints are pretty shot.
I'd love to hear from anyone who has had the XLIF procedure. This surgery would not include any instrumentation other than the cage that replaces the worn-out disc.
I'd be up for doing this procedure if there's a decent chance it will relieve my pain at L3-L4. However, I know that fusing this level will likely just lead to a breakdown at L2-L3, and I'll be back for more surgery in two years.
My surgeon is quite realistic about my prospects. He says there's a 60 percent to 70 percent chance I'll get significant pain relief from the procedure. That's a lot more honest than the 80 percent to 90 percent positive outcome that some surgeons claim for their fusion patients.
Thanks in advance,