What is a TLIF?

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is a surgical procedure used to treat various spinal conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, and spinal instability. TLIF aims to stabilize the spine, alleviate nerve compression, and reduce pain by fusing two vertebrae together. It is performed through the posterior (back) approach of the spine

What Conditions Does a TILF Surgery Treat?

  • TLIF is often recommended for patients with conditions such as degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis, and recurrent disc herniation.
  • It is considered when conservative treatments have not provided sufficient relief, and symptoms include pain, numbness, weakness, and neurological deficits.

What Happens During a TLIF?

  1. Positioning: The patient is positioned face-down on the operating table.
  2. Incision: An incision is made in the midline of the back over the affected spinal segment.
  3. Decompression: The surgeon removes a portion of the lamina (laminectomy) to access the spinal canal and alleviate pressure on nerves.
  4. Discectomy: If necessary, the damaged or herniated disc material is removed to relieve nerve compression.
  5. Interbody Fusion: A spacer, often made of bone graft or a synthetic material, is inserted into the disc space to restore disc height and promote fusion between adjacent vertebrae.
  6. Stabilization: Pedicle screws and rods are placed to provide stability to the spine and hold the vertebrae in the desired position for fusion.
  7. Bone Graft: Additional bone graft material may be placed along the sides of the vertebrae to encourage bone fusion over time.
  8. Closure: The incision is closed with sutures or staples, and a dressing is applied.

What are the Benefits of a TLIF Surgery?

  • TLIF aims to reduce pain, stabilize the spine, and improve spinal alignment.
  • By promoting fusion between vertebrae, it can eliminate motion at the affected segment, reducing pain from abnormal movement.

What is the Risk of a TLIF Surgery?

  • All surgical procedures carry risks, including infection, bleeding, nerve injury, complications related to anesthesia, and hardware failure.
  • Recovery and rehabilitation are crucial for successful outcomes.

What Does Recovery for a TLIF Surgery Look Like?

  • After surgery, patients are monitored in the recovery room before being transferred to a hospital room.
  • Depending on the individual, hospital stay can range from a few days to a week.
  • Rehabilitation, including physical therapy, is an essential part of the recovery process to regain strength, mobility, and function.

    Consulting a spine specialist or orthopedic surgeon is recommended to determine if TLIF surgery is appropriate based on your specific condition, symptoms, and overall health. The decision to undergo TLIF should be made after a thorough evaluation and discussion of potential benefits, risks, and recovery expectations.