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Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is a less invasive form of spinal fusion surgery. In addition to taking pressure off of spinal nerves and providing stability to the lumbar spine, the TLIF procedure also restores correct spinal curvature and proper disc height between vertebrae.

Unlike with traditional spinal fusion surgery, most TLIF patients go home the next day. Most people are able to return to daily activities six weeks after surgery, free of debilitating back and leg pain. Your long term results will depend on your efforts to follow physical therapy and lifestyle recommendations post-surgery.

,What happens during TLIF?

“Transforaminal” refers to accessing the spinal canal through the foramen (the opening through which spinal nerves pass from the spinal cord to other parts of the body) on one side. Dr. Baig will begin by making a small midline incision in your back so that the spinal canal can be accessed. Using minimally invasive tools and techniques including real-time X-ray (fluoroscopy), he will gently separate the back muscles with as little cutting as possible. The bony portion of the lamina and facet joint on one side are removed, providing access to the disc. The lamina and facet joint on the other side are left in place.

Dr. Baig then removes some of the damaged disc material and inserts an implant into the disc space that will re-align the vertebrae, taking pressure off of pinched nerves as well as restoring proper disc height. The rest of the empty disc space is filled with bone graft material. Additional bone graft material and possibly plates, rods, or screws are used to fuse the two vertebrae together for stability.

Why TLIF?

There are many benefits to the TLIF procedure over similar procedures such as PLIF and ALIF.

  • Since only the lamina and facet joint on one side of the vertebra are removed, the spine is less likely to destabilize after surgery.
  • Fewer delicate spinal nerves need to be moved, resulting in less risk of nerve damage.
  • Smaller incisions and less damage to muscle and surrounding tissues result in a faster, easier recovery, with fewer post-surgical risks and less reliance on pain medications.

Am I a candidate for TLIF?

TLIF is the preferred surgical option for several different types of spine damage, including degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and mild to moderate scoliosis, but it might not be the best option for you. As always, Dr. Baig will not perform any form of back surgery unless he is certain it will help you. Not everyone is a candidate for TLIF. A consultation with Dr. Baig is the best way to find an effective treatment plan for your back pain and related symptoms.