Minimal Invasive Oblique Lateral Interbody Fusion (OLIF)

Oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF) is a procedure done to remove a damaged disc and fill it with bone material (graft), and fuse the bones of the low back (lumbar spine). The vertebrae of the lower back are called the lumbar spine; it consist of 5 bones, arranged one above the other and separated by rubbery pads called “intervertebral discs”. As we age, the discs get worn out causing the bones to rub against each other. This results in symptoms such as lower back pain, and numbness or weakness in the leg. 

OLIF is done using minimally invasive technique to minimise cutting of muscles. 

This procedure helps to restore correct spine height, position and curvature, and alleviates pain by making more space for the compressed nerves. 

Indications Of Minimally Invasive OLIF  

Minimally invasive oblique lumbar interbody fusion may be indicated for a number of medical conditions including: 

  • Spinal instability 
  • Correction of deformity 
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis  
  • Spondylolisthesis  
  • Degenerative discs  
  • Degenerative lysthesis 
  • Degenerative adult scoliosis 
  • Degenerative lumbar kyphosis 
  • Tuberculous or pyogenic spondylodiscitis 

Surgery is indicated in patients who have responded poorly to conservative treatment modes such as physical therapy and medications.


Minimally Invasive OLIF procedure

This surgery is performed by an orthopaedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon under general anaesthesia that puts you to sleep so that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. 

A small incision is made on your side to avoid damaging important muscles and ligaments in your back. The abdominal contents, blood vessels and muscles are gently moved aside so that the spinal disc is exposed. The damaged intervertebral disc is removed and spinal nerves are free off compression. Following this, bone or bone-like synthetic material is used to fill the space between the vertebrae. Special screws, rods, plates or cages may be placed at this time to further enhance the stability. Finally, instruments are removed and  the incision closed and dressed. 


Postoperative patient-care

After completion of the surgery, you may be required to stay in the hospital 1 to 2 days or longer. Your doctor may require some  X-rays to determine how your surgical procedure went. It is normal to experience some pain around the incision area and you will be prescribed pain medication to manage it. In some cases, you will be asked to use a back brace to eliminate pain and speed-up the healing process. Depending on your condition, you may require physiotherapy to improve strength and movement post-surgery. You will be asked to consume foods that contain calcium, vitamin D and protein to promote post-surgery. 



The pain and soreness from the surgery will fade and your original symptoms will also be alleviated with 3-6 weeks of rest and recuperation. After this period you can return to sedentary work.  


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