DLIF: Direct Lateral Interbody Fusion

Direct lateral interbody fusion (DLIF) is a type of lumbar interbody fusion (LIF) surgery. In DLIF surgery, the spine is also approached from the side. Using minimally invasive technique, the underlying soft tissues and the psoas muscle are gently separated to reach the intervertebral disc. As the spine is approached through the psoas muscle, DLIF is also known as trans-psoas approach.

Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LIF) surgery is a surgical technique involving the removal of the damaged intervertebral disc, and the insertion of a bone graft into the disc space created between the two adjoining vertebrae. Bone grafts promote healing and facilitate the fusion. Screws and rods are used to stabilize the spine during the healing process.

Lumbar interbody fusion (LIF) surgery may be recommended in patients with degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and disc herniation. The aim of the surgery is to alleviate back or leg pain and stabilize the spine.

Before surgery

Before surgery, your doctor will discuss the type of procedure as well as its associated risks and benefits, with you. You will need to obtain a medical clearance for the surgery from your physician. In addition, your doctor may also recommend a few blood tests, X-rays or other imaging tests to evaluate your medical condition.

After surgery

Following the surgery, you will be shifted to the recovery room and the medical staff will closely monitor your vital signs. Minor discomfort, pain at the incision site, muscle spasms in the neck or back, or other related symptoms may be present after the surgery. You may need to wear a lumbar brace to support the spine during the healing process.

Postoperative care

You will need to keep the incision area clean and dry. Do not swim or use hot tubs. Also avoid driving, smoking, and lifting heavy objects. You can begin physical therapy as directed by your surgeon. You should take the medications as recommended by your surgeon and schedule a follow-up with him.


Infection, bleeding, nerve injury, and problems with anesthesia are the potential risks and complications associated with lumbar interbody fusion (LIF) surgery.

If you develop any signs of infection such as pain, redness, swelling, or alteration in the quantity or smell of the drainage, or fever over 101° F you should immediately call your doctor. Also inform your doctor if you develop bowel and bladder dysfunction or numbness over the genital area.

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