Neurosurgeon Hamid Abbasi, MD, recently reached a milestone as he performed his 500th Oblique Lateral Lumber Interbody Fusion (OLLIF) on a patient at RiverView Health.

    Neurosurgeon Hamid Abbasi, MD, recently reached a milestone as he performed his 500th Oblique Lateral Lumber Interbody Fusion (OLLIF) on a patient at RiverView Health.

    The OLLIF procedure represents medicine’s latest advancements in minimally invasive spine surgery. It treats many of the indications that result in back pain, including: degenerative disc disease, herniated discs, spondylolisthesis, scoliosis, and spinal stenosis. An OLLIF procedure is often required when a disc is damaged or is degenerated. Typically, the height of the disc is reduced, unstable, and bulging. This condition, in turn, can put pressure on the nerves exiting the spine and can cause severe pain in the legs and back.

    According to Dr. Abbasi, that stabbing, crippling pain has been described as worse than childbirth by several of his patients. As people age, their discs become less elastic and are less able to stay in top working condition. OLLIF is intended to reestablish the height of the disc, reduce movement of the disc and alleviate pain.

    Compared to traditional spinal fusion procedures, OLLIF is a much less invasive surgical technique that does not require removal of any bone or ligament structures. An OLLIF procedure only requires a skin incision of 15 millimeters – smaller than a dime. The diseased disc is removed through a small portal that protects the skin, muscles and nerves. After the disc is removed and the bone graft material is placed, an implant is positioned in the disc space. The implant maintains the spacing of the vertebrae while the fusion takes place. After the fusion is complete, a solid bone mass forms and the two vertebrae are joined together.

    OLLIF is groundbreaking by today’s standards and revolutionary compared to the 1950s when physicians would remove a piece of the patient’s hip bone and go through  their abdomen to place the hip bone piece inside the disc space to lift the spine and take pressure off the nerve. It often took patients six months to fully recover from the surgery, leaving muscles week from the long period of nonuse.

    A surgery that used to require seven or eight hours is now frequently performed as an outpatient procedure. OLLIF patients are often up and walking with assistance before a patient undergoing traditional open spine surgery would even be out of surgery. Hospital stays that were often up to five days in length are a thing of the past as well. Many patients receiving OLLIF have returned to work in just a few days.

    Of his milestone 500th OLLIF procedure,  Dr. Abbasi shared: “My proudest moment was to see that patient  walk two hours after surgery, and then go home the next day making jokes with staff and feeling pain free for the first time in years.’’

    Dr. Abbasi officially joined RiverView’s medical staff earlier this year, although he has been doing procedures at RiverView since 2012.

    He is board-certified with the American Board of Neurological Surgery, and is an expert in brain and spine disease and a leading surgeon in the minimally invasive treatment of the spine. His  vast experience includes minimally invasive correction of deformities and scoliosis, surgical pain management, complex spine surgery, trauma and spinal stabilizations, spine and spinal cord tumors, brain tumors, pituitary tumors, brain hemorrhage and none emergent trauma vagal nerve stimulator, peripheral nerve and carpal tunnel.

    A graduate of the University of Heidelberg, Germany, with a doctorate of medicine and philosophy, he spent 13 years after graduation pursing extensive neurosurgical training at world-famous institutions including the University of Heidelberg, Stanford University, Dartmouth College and the University of Texas including training in MD Anderson in Houston.

    For more information on OLLIF, contact the RiverView Specialty Clinic at 281-9553.