Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

What Is A Minimally Invasive TLIF?

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a form of spine surgery in which the lumbar spine is approached through a number of small incisions in the back. The name of the procedure is derived from: transforaminal (through the foramen), lumbar (lower back), interbody (implants or bone graft placed between two vertebral bodies) and fusion (spinal stabilization).

The TLIF is a variation of the posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF), described in the preceding section.

The main advantage of TLIF is that it may be performed using minimally invasive spine surgery, a treatment that involves small incisions and muscle dilation, allowing the surgeon to gently separate the muscles surrounding the spine rather than cutting them. A minimally invasive approach reduces the trauma to surrounding muscles of the back, and minimizes scarring.

Why Might I Need This Procedure?

A spinal fusion procedure such as a TLIF may be recommended as a surgical treatment option for patients with spinal conditions such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or spinal stenosis, which has not responded to conservative treatment measures (rest, physical therapy or medication). The symptoms of lumbar spinal instability may include pain, numbness and/or muscle weakness in the low back, hips and legs.

Dr. Brazenor will take a number of factors into consideration before recommending a TLIF, including the condition to be treated, your age, health and lifestyle and your anticipated level of activity following surgery.

Dr. Brazenor no longer recommends minimally-invasive TLIF. In his opinion the mechanical result is inferior to that obtained by open operation. This particularly applies to "spinal balance", which is the posture of the spine after operation. With open operation the surgeon has a much greater ability to restore the normal spinal posture, very important for pain-free function of the spinal segments above those which have been operated. Minimally-invasive spinal surgery merely for the purpose of shorter skin incisions has, in Dr Brazenor's experience, resulted in mechanically-inferior results, to the patient's detriment.