Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a type of spinal fusion procedure in which bone graft is placed between the affected lumbar vertebrae through a posterior incision on the patient’s back.
Your surgeon may endorse TLIF if you are suffering from any of the following spinal instability conditions:
- Degenerative disc disease.
- Spinal stenosis.
The common symptoms associated with lumbar spinal instability are pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in the low back, hips and legs. Therefore one should always consult their surgeon or spinal care provider before making any decision regarding surgery.
- A small incision (3 cms) is made in the skin on your back over the affected vertebrae.
- Muscles encircling the affected spine are retracted to make approach easy.
- Lamina covering the vertebra is removed to view the nerve roots.
- Facet joints (situated over nerve roots) may be undercut or trimmed to provide more space to the nerve roots.
- Nerve roots are moved away to remove the disc material from the anterior region of the spine.
- A bone graft is then inserted between the vertebrae.
- Then screws and rods are fixed to stabilize the spine.
- Finally, the incision is closed.
Patients who have undergone TLIF surgery are usually discharged on the same day, but in some cases, the hospital stay may be extended. Typically though, using this minimally invasive procedure for neck surgery or back surgery results in a short hospital stay. Patients may find a correction in some symptoms soon after the surgery, and other symptoms may gradually recover with time.
Risks and Complications
Although transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion surgery is a safe procedure, some complexity may arise under certain circumstances. Some but not all of the complications associated with TLIF surgery are as follows:
- Nerve damage.
- Blood clots.
- Blood loss.
- Bowel or bladder problems.
- Incomplete fusion of the bone graft (spinal fusion).