There is a new alternative for those facing the prospect of spinal fusion, it’s called eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion (XLIF®).

Not everyone experiences the same kind of back pain, and often the cause depends on lifestyle and age. Dr. Christian Athanassious, Director of the Total Spine Health Program at SRO says, “There are any number of reasons that patients can experience spine problems. The majority of cases are caused by either instability or by disc, bone or ligaments putting pressure on the nerve roots or cord.”

Adults between the age of 30 to 60 are more likely to experience back pain caused by lumbar disc herniation or degenerative disc disease or from a back muscle or soft tissue strain. Older adults are more likely to suffer from pain related to joint degeneration usually caused by osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis or a compression fracture.

Since some symptoms of low back strain can point to more serious conditions, it’s important to consult a doctor when symptoms linger or disrupt normal routines. Any numbness and weakness in the legs, or bowel and bladder problems, can be a sign of nerve damage requiring immediate medical attention. Generally, treatment for back pain depends on the kind of pain a patient is experiencing, and the underlying cause of the discomfort. Surgery for low back pain is generally considered only after symptoms fail to respond to nonsurgical treatment methods first.

But for patients whose symptoms continue to worsen, and for anyone whose spinal condition indicates the need for surgery, the XLIF® procedure may provide the best outcome.

For those choosing XLIF® minimally invasive back surgery, potential benefits include;

  • reduced time in the hospital
  • shortened recovery time
  • less blood loss during the procedure
  • smaller scar/incision
  • an implant designed for maximum stability of the spine

The XLIF® technique is designed to treat a range of spinal disorders and is performed via the side (lateral) of the body. Using patented nerve monitoring technology, the surgeon gains lateral access to the spinal column, avoiding any major nerves in the area between the incision and the column. The XLIF procedure has the benefit of avoiding the risks of vascular and/or neural injury as found in traditional approaches.

“Most XLIF® patients are discharged from the hospital just one or two days following surgery,” explains Dr. Athanassious. “Every patient is unique and the orthopaedic surgeon will determine the most appropriate postoperative course for the best outcome.”

Christian Athanassious, MDDr. Christian Athanassious is a board eligible spine surgeon with fellowship training in spine surgery from Stanford University. Dr. Athanassious is the director of The Total Spine Health Program at SRO. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Christian Athanassious call (707) 546-1922 or visit for more information.