Oblique lumbar interbody fusion: technical aspects, operative outcomes, and complications

Jia Xi Julian Li, Kevin Phan, Ralph Mobbs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) and lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) are commonly used approaches for lumbar spine fusion surgery, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. ALIF requires mobilization of the great vessels and peritoneum, and dissection of the psoas muscle in the LLIF technique is associated with postoperative neurologic complications in the proximal lower limb. The anterior-to-psoas (ATP) or oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF) technique is the proposed solution to accessing the L1-L5 levels without the issues encountered with ALIF and LLIF. In this review, the technical nuances, operative outcomes, and complications with the ATP/OLIF technique in the current literature are summarized. Methods A systematic search of the literature was performed according to PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. Data collected included operative time, blood loss, postoperative hospital stay, and complications, which were then pooled together. Results From the 16 studies selected, the mean blood loss was 109.9 mL, average operating time was 95.2 minutes, and mean postoperative hospital stay was 6.3 days. Fusion was achieved in 93% of levels operated. Incidence of intraoperative and postoperative complications was 1.5% and 9.9%, respectively. Transient thigh pain and/or numbness and hip flexion weakness occurred in 3.0% and 1.2% of patients, respectively. Conclusions Early results on the ATP/OLIF technique are promising and warrant further investigation with well-designed prospective randomized studies to provide high-level evidence of the potential advantages over the ALIF and LLIF approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • anterior-to-psoas
  • lumbar interbody fusion
  • oblique lumbar interbody fusion


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