Varilift®: Dr. Kremer’s Instrument of Choice

Varilift® is a surgical device designed for minimally invasive spinal fusion procedures, particularly useful in lumbar spinal surgeries. Its expandable technology allows for a customized fit to the patient’s anatomy, facilitating spinal fusion by re-establishing the height and spacing of the intervertebral disc space.  Placing a wedge in the disc space helps to restore alignment. Perhaps more importantly, the Varilift implant serves to restore weight-bearing to the front of the spine, as it should be. This implant is FDA approved for use without screws and rods, which are placed through the back of the spine. Rods and screws distribute weight-bearing to the back of the spine. This results in muscle fatigue and pain. Moreover, the front of the spine sees less gravity, meaning a fusion in the disc space may not mature as it is not load-bearing.

Also, the abnormal shift of the load to the back of the spine with screws and rods means the adjacent levels experience unnatural stress and may deteriorate faster.  Thus, using a VariLift implant in the disc space without screws and rods may help restore more natural weight-bearing in the diseased segment, and the ones next to it.  Perhaps most importantly, instead of waiting for the bone to grow across the disc space (which could take a very long time given how much we wiggle our spines), with a VariLift TLIF, the cage integrates with the bony endplates.

Osseointegration, a process where the bone grows into a load-bearing implant, helps create improved stability, usually at 6 weeks. So even elderly patients who do not grow bone quickly, are more likely to heal.  I love that with this surgery, I am strengthening, adding, and restoring in a faster, safer, and better way. With decompressive surgery alone (no fusion), I risk making a weak segment weaker.  This leads to chronic back pain and disability, recurrence of the stenosis or disc rupture.  Thus a minimally invasive VariLift TLIF treats the root cause in adding stability to a weakened disc space.

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