Advanced spine surgeries performed by Dr. Varnavas, spine surgeon

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) is a spine surgery that addresses instability in the back and relieves pain in the low back and pain that radiates in the leg. A Maximum Access Surgery Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MAS PLIF) achieves this by using a less disruptive approach to decompress nerve roots and fuse one or more vertebrae together to reduce their motion. The difference between a traditional “open” PLIF and a MAS PLIF is the surgical approach. The MAS PLIF procedure is designed to eliminate the need to retract muscle laterally, therefore requiring a smaller incision than an “open” PLIF. By minimizing the amount of muscle disruption, this procedure is intended to reduce postoperative approach-related muscle pain and enable a faster recovery for the patient.

Montana spine surgeon, Gus Varnavas MD, spine surgeon second opinion Montana, spine surgeon second opinion Anaconda, second opinion for spine surgery Montana, spine neurosurgeons Montana, Minimally invasive spine surgery Montana, laser spine surgery Montana, herniated disc treatment Montana, artificial disc replacement Montana, treatment for a herniated disc Montana, home remedies for back pain Montana, home remedy for back pain MontanaXLIF® Lateral Access Surgery

The XLIF® (eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion) procedure is a spine surgery in which the surgeon approaches the spine from the side of the patient’s body, rather than the front or back as in traditional spine surgeries. This side (lateral) approach can reduce the risk of injury to muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.

The XLIF technique can provide relief to patients who cannot tolerate traditional open back surgery due to increased risks of longer anesthesia time, greater blood loss, longer hospitalization, and slower recovery. XLIF surgery is a less disruptive alternative for patients who have lived with back or leg pain through years of various failed treatments, including steroid injections, physical therapy, and pain medication.

The XLIF procedure includes the use of a nerve monitoring system which provides surgeons with real-time feedback about nerve health, location, and function during surgery, to reduce the risk of nerve injury.

Benefits of XLIF include:

  • Reduced blood loss. Less-invasive procedure allows for less tissue disruption, resulting in reduced blood loss.
  • Reduced hospital stay. Patients usually require a stay of one to three days in the hospital, compared to three to six days of immobility and hospitalization typical of traditional open approaches.
  • Faster return to normal activity. Many XLIF patients walk the same day they have surgery, as compared to three days later for many traditional lumbar interbody fusion surgeries.

Images and content related to PLIF and XLIF Copyright © 2016 Nuvasive. Used by permission.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)

Maximum Access Surgery (MAS) Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is a surgery to provide increased spinal stability to help reduce pain in the lower back. The benefit of this procedure is reduced blood loss, less time in the hospital and a quick recovery compared to a traditional TLIF.Montana spine surgeon, Gus Varnavas MD, spine surgeon second opinion Montana, spine surgeon second opinion Anaconda, second opinion for spine surgery Montana, spine neurosurgeons Montana, Minimally invasive spine surgery Montana, laser spine surgery Montana, herniated disc treatment Montana, artificial disc replacement Montana, treatment for a herniated disc Montana, home remedies for back pain Montana, home remedy for back pain Montana

Through the TLIF procedure, the spine surgeon stabilizes the spine by restoring the normal disc height and then fusing the vertebrae together.

TLIF fuses the anterior (front) and posterior (back) columns of the spine through a single posterior approach. The anterior (front) of the spine is stabilized by the bone graft and cage. The posterior (rear) column is locked in place with pedicle screws, rods, and bone graft. A TLIF surgery fuses the front and back part of the spine. The front of the spine is stabilized by a bone graft while the back iis locked in place with screws, rods, and a bone graft.

One advantage of the TLIF over a PLIF is that a cage is used to restore and maintain normal disc height which provides room for the nerve root, which relieves pressure on the nerve root to eliminate pain symptoms.

Illustration copyright Nuvasive, used by permission.

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

An ALIF surgery is used to address symptoms caused by disc degeneration, instability in the spine, and in some cases abnormal curvature of the spine. During an ALIF surgery the surgeon accesses the front of the spine to remove the damaged in the low back. Once the damaged disc is removed, the surgeon then inserts a bone graft into the space between the two vertebrae to restore a normal disc height and provide an avenue for the nerve root which reduces the impingement on the nerve and the subsequent pain symptoms.

Over time, the two vertebrae fuse together into one solid bone. By using an "anterior approach” the surgeon accesses the disc at the front of the spine which eliminates the disruption caused by an incision in the low back.

Illustration copyright Nuvasive, used by permission.


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Need an Appointment?

Gus Varnavas, MD — at Community Hospital of Anaconda — specializes in the treatment of back and neck pain and strives to help people return to activity. Request an appointment with Dr. Varnavas in his office in Anaconda, MT.