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Minnesota's Leading Spine Center

Minnesota's Leading Spine Center


Minnesota's Leading Spine Center

OLLIF: Oblique Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

What is OLLIF Surgery?

OLLIF stands for “oblique lateral lumbar interbody fusion”. It is one of the most innovative back surgeries available for treating low back pain conditions.

The OLLIF is one of Inspired Spine’s signature advanced minimally invasive spinal surgery procedures – a revolutionary advancement in minimally invasive spine surgery that our surgeons have perfected with years of research and practice.

For patients considering lumbar fusion, the OLLIF offers significant advantages in the ease and speed of recovery. And unlike most other spinal fusion approaches, the OLLIF procedure can be used to effectively treat all lumbar levels of the spine.

Inspired Spine & the OLLIF Difference

Inspired Spine is a leader and pioneer of the OLLIF procedure, with a proven track record.

Inspired Spine’s Oblique Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (OLLIF) procedure is a demonstrably safer and more reliable outpatient surgery that delivers immediate and permanent pain relief. 96% of Inspired Spine OLLIF patients are walking without assistance within 24 hours after surgery and are back to performing normal activities in 2-4 weeks.

Traditional spine surgery techniques are typically high-risk In-patient procedures requiring 3-4 hours in the OR followed by a 3-5 day hospital stay and an 18-24 week recovery period. Inspired Spine’s OLLIF technique delivers commensurate to superior outcomes to those delivered by traditional approaches with a lower risk 40 minute out-patient procedure which enables most patients to be discharged the same day.

When doing research on spine surgery be sure to always ask your surgeon how many procedures he/she has done and also ask for patient testimonials. You want to be confident the surgeon is an expert in the procedure.

OLLIF Treats a Range of Spinal Conditions

The OLLIF procedure can be used to treat a wide range of spinal conditions known to contribute to back and leg pain. It works well for spinal stenosis, scoliosis, spondylolisthesis, herniated discs, and degenerative disc disease. The procedure provides the patient with excellent pain relief following a very brief recovery period.

Since the OLLIF Procedure is performed via a small portal (smaller than the diameter of a dime) on the patient’s side, the surgeon doesn’t have to move, remove, dissect or alter major muscles, healthy bone structures, and nerve bundles.

OLLIF Surgery: Oblique Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

How is the OLLIF Surgery Performed?

From the incision site, the surgeon uses a small probe to dilate the patient’s muscles. With an open procedure, the surgeon would simply cut through muscle leading to substantial pain and damage to healthy tissue. But the OLLIF only separates muscle layers temporarily, allowing them to remain viable afterwards. This provides access to the damaged or diseased disc or the bone components, allowing for removal.

OLLIF surgery and the Kambin's Triangle

The diseased or damaged disc is accessed through Kambin’s triangle – a right triangle-shaped area over the disc, which is formed by the exiting nerve root at the top and the border of the vertebrae at the base (width).

The OLLIF surgeon will use two angles of real time x-ray (fluoroscopy) to ensure accurate placement of the surgical instruments throughout the procedure. In addition, the surgeon uses intraoperative neuro-monitoring in real-time to confirm that nerve structures are outside the surgery area.

The surgeon removes necessary bone and disc to free up nerve roots and to make room for the fusion cage between the vertebrae. The surgeon then places the spinal implant with bone graft in it to weld together the vertebrae and relieve one’s pain.

To ensure steadiness and stability, the surgeon will also place screws in the back of the spine, along with rods that hold together the spine. Finally, the surgeon seals up the small incision and covers it with a bandage. During recovery, the body forms a solid bridge made up of new bone mass as the implant fuses with the adjoining vertebrae.

How OLLIF Compares to Traditional Lumbar Fusion Surgeries

Compared to the OLLIF, traditional fusion surgeries to treat spinal conditions involve significantly more time in the operating room and a larger incision. For an open transforaminal lumbar fusion procedure (TLIF), the surgeon must cut through significant muscle tissue with a much longer incision than the OLLIF’s ½-inch incision. There is also more blood loss and bone removal.

Traditional fusion surgeries are performed in a hospital operating room, take a lot longer, and typically require a hospital day of at least a few days. They can also make it much harder for patients to get back to normal life and activities with months of demanding rehab to compensate for damaged back muscles.

The OLLIF procedure is the only truly minimally invasive alternative for lumbar fusion with clinically proven advantages in effectiveness, safety, and improved outcomes, reducing pain and recovery time while making the process simpler for both the patient and the surgeon.

OLLIF vs. TLIF Surgery Comparison

OLLIF Surgery Benefits for the Patient

Patients with a High BMI

A high BMI index increases the risk of lower back pain, puts strain and pressure on the spine and often contributes to symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spondylosis, herniation, stenosis, and scoliosis…all of which can make it more difficult to get relief.

Many surgeons reject high BMI patients for traditional open back surgery because of the challenging nature of the procedure, the longer surgery times and possible tissue damage and infection complications that make it high risk, low reward.

Unlike conventional treatment, the OLLIF procedure is low risk and high reward, whether your BMI is high or low. The OLLIF’s procedure duration (as displayed in the following chart) is not impacted by BMI, while TLIF and MITLIF both show considerable increases in surgery time as the BMI increases. The risk of complications increases 17% for every additional 30 minutes of surgery.

Chart comparing surgery time by BMI between OLLIF, MIS-TLIF and TLIF

Chart comparing surgery time by BMI between OLLIF, MIS-TLIF and TLIF

Minimal Scarring

As a result of our fluoroscopic minimally invasive surgery approach, you can expect less scarring, less pain from the operation and a faster recovery compared with open surgery.

Often Doesn’t Require a Hospital Stay

Because of its minimally invasive nature, the OLLIF is performed without an extended hospital stay and often without any overnight stay. The procedure itself can take as little as 45 minutes, compared to the hours spent on traditional spinal fusion procedures.

In general, an OLLIF procedure takes about half the time or less as a comparable TLIF (transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion) surgery would. There is no need to cut through the muscles or ligaments surrounding the spine, so recovery is faster.

Low Risk and Quick Recovery

The OLLIF results in a very fast recovery period. Patients are frequently up and walking around within several hours and many go home the same day as surgery. In fact, the OLLIF does not need to be done in a hospital at all; it can be performed routinely in an outpatient surgery center instead.

Blood loss is minimal, because of the very small incision and the risk of complications is significantly lower than that of traditional spinal fusions.1

But what most patients will appreciate is the speed of their recovery. Many can return to work and normal activities in a couple of weeks, as opposed to the lengthy and demanding rehabilitation process required with open fusions.

Because of its short operating time, minimum rehab requirements, and high-safety profile, the OLLIF is often recommended for patients who have been denied surgery because of certain risk factors, such as age, obesity, or deformity.

This is good news for elderly or frail patients with Adult Degenerative Scolosis, for instance.2 Because several levels of the spine can be accessed from a single OLLIF incision, providing live-changing pain relief.

OLLIF Helps Patients When No Other Spinal Fusion Surgery Can

Colleen was bedridden with severe scoliosis that no surgeon dared to treat, until her family found an Inspired Spine surgeon who could perform the OLLIF procedure. Now she’s mobile, active and pain-free.

Click the image below to see Colleen’s video testimonial.

Are You a Candidate for OLLIF?

  • Have you suffered from low back and leg pain for 6 months or longer?
  • Have you tried conservative treatments with no relief?
  • Have you been recommended for lumbar fusion surgery?

Then you may be a perfect candidate for the advanced minimally invasive OLLIF procedure. To find out, schedule your no-risk free consultation today with an Inspired Spine surgeon.
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  1. https://www.cureus.com/articles/3370-oblique-lateral-lumbar-interbody-fusion-ollif-technical-notes-and-early-results-of-a-single-surgeon-comparative-study
  2. https://www.cureus.com/articles/7780-minimally-invasive-scoliosis-surgery-with-oblique-lateral-lumbar-interbody-fusion-single-surgeon-feasibility-study