Surgeons continually develop minimally invasive procedures that reduce the amount of tissue trauma, decrease the possibility of suffering complications and shorten recovery time. AxiaLIF means axial lumbar interbody infusion and refers to the latest method of accomplishing lumbar fusion.

Discs provide a protective cushion between each vertebra. Sometimes discs endure damage secondary to injury or wear thin from age. Correcting the problem involves removing the damaged disc and filling the space with a natural or synthetic substance.

Benefits of AxiaLIF

AxiaLIF replaces certain traditional procedures that include anterior lumbar interbody fusion, which entails locating the affected vertebra by making an incision on the abdomen. The newer trans-sacral procedure requires a smaller incision that typically extends one inch in length. Surgeons perform AxiaLIF for correcting problems located anywhere from the last lumbar vertebra to the first sacral vertebra, or the region spanning the L5 to the S1 on the lower back.

Besides offering a minimally invasive alternative, AxiaLIF procedures also create a smaller scar, minimize blood loss and pose less risk of infection. Requiring approximately 45 minutes for completion, individuals undergo the procedure on an outpatient basis. As the surgery causes minimal trauma to the spine and surrounding tissue, patients often return to normal activities and work after around two weeks.

Candidates for AxiaLIF

When determining if patients qualify for surgical procedures, physicians generally consider the overall health of the patient. Osteopaths may recommend AxiaLIF if patients suffer from degenerative disc disease, low-grade spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis. Occasionally, individuals experience failed fusion, causing a condition known as pseudoarthrosis. Surgeons may use AxiaLIF to correct this problem.


During the surgery, patients lie on the stomach under general anesthesia. After making the incision, the surgeon gently moves the tissue away from the affected vertebra and inserts dilators that form a channel and maintain the opening. The physician then removes the damaged or worn disc and fills the space with bone from the patient, bone acquired from a donor or inserts specially manufactured biologic materials that might include coral. Surgeons might also install special screws between the vertebra, which maintains the proper distance between the joint and serves to hold the graft in place. After completing the corrective process, the surgeon closes the incision. In approximately nine months, the graft and vertebra mesh, creating a solid region along the spine.

Risks Associated with AxiaLIF

Though a minimally invasive procedure, the surgery carries possible risks. The graft may not merge with existing vertebral bone, which may require another surgery. The vertebra on either side of the graft may collapse onto the site before solidification and fusion occurs. The screws inserted for stabilization may shift. Blood vessels may endure damage or trauma. In rare instances, patients may suffer bladder or bowel damage.