Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion

Patients suffering from instability in their lower back (lumbar) region may be recommended for a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF).

A traditional open TLIF surgery is an invasive procedure in which the surgeon makes a 4-6 inch incision in the patient’s back, cutting and stretching muscles to reach the spinal column. The surgeon then accesses the damaged disc causing the nerve compression and removes it from the side, differentiating the TLIF from the posterior lumbar interbody fusion, or PLIF, which uses an incision through the back side of a patient. The surgeon then fuses the two vertebrae together by inserting a bone graft and hardware, offering the patient greater stability.

When to choose surgery

Surgery of any kind is generally recommended as a last resort treatment for patients experiencing chronic neck or back pain. Fusion surgery, or any surgery, should only be chosen once a patient has exhausted all other conservative treatments and is still in severe pain. These treatments include:

  • Medication or homeopathic remedies — useful for many patients who are experiencing new or worsening symptoms.
  • Chiropractic treatment — helps some patients in relieving back pain.
  • Massage therapy — often a great first step in alleviating pain without the drastic measures of surgery.
  • Physical therapy — also an option for those looking to gain strength and mobility.

If after attempting these nonsurgical treatments for several months you are still experiencing pain and symptoms, your physician may then recommend surgery.

Minimally invasive TLIF

Though traditionally the TLIF was only offered as an invasive open fusion procedure, Laser Spine Institute now offers the TLIF procedure as a minimally invasive stabilization (MIS) to give patients a safer, more effective alternative to traditional fusion.

During this minimally invasive procedure, the surgeon is able to insert bone graft and a spacer into the disc space from a unilateral approach (involving only one side). This process is completed without having to forcefully move the nerve roots, ultimately reducing the injury and scarring around the nerve when compared to other open fusion surgeries.

By using minimally invasive techniques, our surgeons are able to significantly reduce the patient’s recovery time* and risk of infection or complication. All of our procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, allowing for a streamlined patient experience that eliminates hospital-associated costs and helps patients get back to their lives faster*.

To learn more about all the minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today and see how you may be a candidate.