Learn About LLIF Surgery

In a Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion (LLIF) surgery, the patient lies on their side for the procedure and the spine is accessed through the psoas muscle. Since the surgery is performed through a smaller incision, there is less disruption to the muscles and surrounding tissue, which reduces blood loss and typically reduces the length of a hospital stay. There is the ability to use a larger implant than with a TLIFALIF, or PLIF procedure as well, allowing the maximum amount of coverage.

Video Overview

Common Causes and Symptoms

This approach may be used for cases of degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the lumbar spine.

Spondylolisthesis or Retrolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis causes the forward motion (or slip) of one vertebral body over the one below it. This can be caused by a traumatic accident or from degenerative disc disease (DDD). DDD can also cause retrolisthesis, which is a vertebral body slipping backward.

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is attributed to age and general wear and tear that presents in the disc area with herniated discs or osteophytes (bone spurs). These can cause collapse and pressure on the nerve roots and/or spinal cord. In the lumbar spine, this occurs most often due to load on the lower spine. This could be due to weight, gravity, or lifting as the lumbar spine carries 80% of body weight when standing.


Trauma in the lumbar spine can take many forms and can involve bone, ligaments, or a combination of the two.

Revisions of Previous Spine Surgery

If a prior surgery did not result in fusion, or pseudarthrosis, then a revision may be necessary.


A spinal tumor may require the need for stabilization.


Depending on the issue, a lateral procedure may be an option when non-surgical techniques do not relieve symptoms. The primary goals are to decompress nerves, restore height/lordosis, and stabilize/fuse the spine.

Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms or for more information.

If you are a surgeon or distributor interested in CoreLink products, please contact us.

Possible Risks

There are possible risks involved with any surgical procedure. Reasonable expectations and compliance with the surgeon’s pre and post-operative instructions are vital. All aspects of any potential surgery should be thoroughly discussed with your healthcare provider.

Risks associated with lateral lumbar procedures include:

  • General adverse effects related to surgical procedures, such as bleeding, infection, blood clots, or allergic reactions
  • Failure of adequate fusion to occur
  • Damage to abdominal organs

It is important to discuss these and all other aspects of any potential surgery with your physician.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions for this procedure. 

What is a spinal cage?

A spinal cage, also known as an interbody, is used in procedures that remove intervertebral discs from the spine. The cage is placed in the disc space to help fuse the spine for stability and/or to restore curvature of the spine. The shape of the cage differs based on the procedure and location on the spine. Click here to learn more.

What are spine biologics?

Spine biologics provide mechanisms for bone growth. They help in the healing and fusion process during spine surgeries and may include scaffold, signaling, or cell elements for bone formation. Click here to learn more about the types of spine biologics. 

What is the difference between PEEK and 3D printed implants?

Poly-ether-ether-ketone (PEEK) implants are comprised of a synthetic material that is “bioinert”, meaning it does not interact when introduced to biological tissue. 3D printed implants are comprised of titanium alloy (Ti-6AL-4V ELI) and are created through additive manufacturing. Click here to learn more about PEEK and 3D printed implants.


Important Note: This information is intended as an educational resource to provide an overview of the procedure. The information should, in no way, be used as a substitute for informed discussions between the patient and physician regarding possible and eventual course of treatment. Medical treatment is individually specific to each patient’s symptoms. The information contained herein may not apply to you, your condition, treatment, or expected outcome. Surgical techniques and practices vary. Complications may occur. It is important to talk with your physician about all indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, clinical results, and other important medical considerations as pertain to this procedure. For further information on product contraindications, warnings, precautions, and possible adverse effects, click here.

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