Kraus Back & Neck Institute: 281.446.3876(281.44.Neuro)


AxiaLIF Surgery

Axial lumbar interbody fusion (AxiaLIF®) surgery is a type of lumbar interbody fusion (LIF) surgery performed to treat lower back and leg pain caused by degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and/or low grade spondylolisthesis. The AxiaLIF procedure specifically treats L5-S1 using minimally invasive techniques. Sometimes the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you go home the same day as your surgery.  AxiaLIF is an alternative to traditional open back surgery.

Anatomic Planes

  • Axial: Perpendicular to the surface of a vertebra
  • Lumbar: Low back
  • Interbody: Between L5 and S1
  • Fusion: Join (fuse) L5 and S1 together

The purpose of an AxiaLIF procedure is to:

  • Restore disc height by distracting the disc space
  • Decompress nerves
  • Provide instant stabilization of L5-S1

The AxiaLIF implant is a titanium alloy rod that is threaded to grip bone during disc space distraction and fixation.

Before your AxiaLIF surgery

Before surgery, you visit your primary care doctor or general practitioner to obtain a general health clearance. This means your doctor has carefully evaluated your health in terms of undergoing surgery.  Your assessment may include blood tests, x-rays or other imaging studies, as well as special tests for existing medical problems (e.g., diabetes, heart disease).

Potential benefits and risks of AxiaLIF surgery

Of course, the potential benefits of the AxiaLIF surgery are important to know, but so are the possible risks and complications. Your risks and complications may be different from those of another patient because you are unique. Your neurosurgeon takes that into serious consideration and thoughtfully explains potential risks to you, which may include infection, bleeding, reaction to anesthesia, and nerve damage.

AxiaLIF surgical information

The AxiaLIF procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Throughout your procedure, the neurosurgeon and his surgical team are consistently kept current on your vital functions, including your central nervous system. Many different gauges, monitors, and equipment provide visual and audio feedback to the surgical team. Image guidance (real time x-ray; fluoroscopy) allows your neurosurgeon to see other views of the surgical field during (intra-operative) your procedure.

Surgical steps of the AxiaLIF procedure

  • You are positioned face down on a padded operating table
  • Real time x-rays are taken to confirm the cervical level
  • Your neurosurgeon makes a 1-inch incision next to your tailbone
  • A discectomy is performed to remove the disc
  • Bone graft is implanted to stimulate fusion
Bone graft type What it is
Autograft Bone from your body
Allograft Donor bone
  • The AxiaLIF implant is inserted to distract L5 and S1 (restore disc height)
  • The incision is closed and dressed

Your AxiaLIF procedure may include posterior spinal fixation. This means your neurosurgeon adds rods and pedicle screws to further strengthen and stabilize your low back. Your neurosurgeon may place facet screws into the facet joints instead of pedicle screws when appropriate.

After AxiaLIF surgery

You are moved from the operating room into the recovery area. Here, the nurses and medical staff closely monitor your vital signs with attention to managing post-operative pain. You should expect some discomfort. You may have pain at the incision site, occasional back muscle spasms, or other symptoms.

Post-operative care for AxiaLIF

Your surgery is over, but now your recovery starts!  If you do not understand your post-surgical instructions or a problem develops, please call us-we are here to help you.

Conventional post-spine surgery instructions

  • Schedule your post-operative appointment call (281) 446-3876.
  • Keep your incision dry and clean
  • You may shower, but keep your incision covered and dry
  • Rest; you will fatigue easily while your body heals
  • Do not take a tub bath, go swimming, or sit in a hot tub or pool
  • Begin physical therapy and/or exercise as instructed
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Do not lift or carry anything heavier than a shoe
  • Walking is encouraged
  • Do not drive until cleared by your neurosurgeon
  • Avoid riding in a car; short distances are permitted
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Eat well, your body needs nutritious food to heal

Call your neurosurgeon’s office (281) 446-3876

  • Fever 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Redness and/or swelling around the incision site expands
  • Change in the amount, odor or appearance of the incision drainage
  • Incision pain increases
  • Bowel or bladder dysfunction develops
  • Genital area numbness develops

Talk with your neurosurgeon

We hope this information about axial lumbar interbody fusion (AxiaLIF®) has answered your immediate questions. Remember, your neurosurgeon is your most valuable source to answer your questions about symptoms, treatment and your healthcare.

Learn more about AxiaLIF from the medical device company that makes the technology:

Gary Kraus, MD,
Neurosurgeon, is Board Certified
Meet Gary Kraus, MD
Masaki Oishi, MD,
Spine Fellowship at the University
Meet Gary Kraus, MD
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