Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is one of the latest spinal surgery methods, modernizing how we treat common spinal ailments. Neurosurgeons conduct the procedure on the lower back by fusing spinal bones or vertebrae with screws and a titanium cage. Compared to other fusion surgeries, TLIF surgery is associated with less scarring due to smaller incisions, less post-operative pain and a faster recovery time.
The TLIF procedure can treat a wide range of spinal ailments, though you’ll want to discuss the option with a neurosurgeon to determine if it’s right for you.
The TLIF procedure is one of several methods of spinal fusion surgery. The surgery eliminates the movement between the vertebrae by removing the intervertebral disc, which generally allows the spine to bend and rotate and insert a bone graft in its place. Neurosurgeons use the natural pathway in the spine to fuse the front and back with a single approach. The bone graft heals over several months, gradually fusing the vertebrae and stabilizing the spine.
The procedure typically involves:
TLIF surgery offers advantages over alternative techniques like posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF), including a higher success rate. While both involve laying down bone graft or a substitute across spine areas to stimulate bone growth, TLIF takes a different trajectory to remove the disc and insert the graft and cage into the space. It exposes the nerves to a lower risk of injury than PLIF and potentially less post-op and long-term back pain.
TLIF can be performed as an open surgery or a less invasive surgery. A diagnosis for TLIF first considers the history of the problem and a neurological exam. Neurosurgeons will ask questions about whether you’ve had an injury, the location of the pain and if you’re experiencing numbness or weakness. They might also assess if you’ve had similar problems in the past or specific symptoms like weight loss or fevers.
Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS TLIF) is an approach that makes spinal surgeries less invasive than TLIF or open TLIF. As a result, it’s meant to give more favorable outcomes during and after the operation. Minimally invasive TLIF can help relieve back and leg pain caused by spinal stenosis, disc degeneration and spinal instability.
To stabilize the spine, the MIS technique involves:
The surgery typically takes one to two hours, depending on the number of levels being fused.
No matter the exposure type, TLIF procedures’ goals are the same. However, compared to standard TLIF, minimally invasive exposure involves only making small incisions. This can minimize disruptions to the body’s tissues, resulting in less post-op pain, blood loss and a shorter recovery.
Surgery might be the first treatment option recommended if you have significant instability or neurological problems. TLIF surgery can help treat patients with the following conditions:
Many potential candidates fear the unknown with surgery. Hear directly from Dr. Roberts what you could expect as a recipient of the TLIF surgery.
Compared to TLIF, the recovery time from MIS TLIF tends to be much shorter. That’s because it requires smaller incisions, less disruption to muscle tissue and, therefore, less pain. Your doctor will provide a special brace for the next three months to wear when you sit, stand or walk.
The recovery timeline will vary from patient to patient, though generally, it is as follows:
If you are experiencing a painful spinal condition, TLIF or MIS TLIF surgery can provide relief. At New York Spine Institute (NYSI), we treat everything from common spinal disorders to complex spinal conditions to help you improve your quality of life and return to the activities you love. Our specialized divisions include neurosurgery, scoliosis and orthopedic spine care and we use the latest diagnostics and medical treatments to get to the root of your disorder.
To discover how our specialists can help, schedule an appointment today.