Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion

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

Performed as a traditional open spine procedure, TLIF surgery is highly invasive and requires the surgeon to make a large 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, or posterior, of a patient. The surgeon then fuses the two vertebrae together by inserting a bone graft and hardware, providing stability to that spinal segment.

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 and other spine procedures 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 relieving 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 doctor may then recommend surgery.

Minimally invasive TLIF

Although traditionally the TLIF was only offered as an open spine fusion procedure, Laser Spine Institute is able to perform the TLIF procedure as a minimally invasive stabilization to give patients an outpatient 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 using muscle-sparing techniques, ultimately reducing the injury and scarring around the nerve when compared to other open fusion surgeries.

By using minimally invasive techniques, our procedures are able to offer a shorter recovery time and less risk of infection or complication compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.^ To learn more about the minimally invasive procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute, contact us today.

We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.