Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is a lumbar fusion procedure from the back, or posterior approach. During this procedure, your surgeon will make a midline incision in order to expose the posterior spine elements, such as the spinous process, lamina and facet joint. Once the posterior elements have been exposed, a window is created by removing the facet joint or facetectomy. Then the thecal sac and nerve root is retracted in order to expose the targeted disc space laterally. An incision is made into the annulus of the affected disc. Most of the disc material is removed to provide a bony fusion surface. Once the area is prepped, bone graft material is placed along with an interbody cage or interbody device. Posterior instrumentation is placed in addition for further stabilization and fusion of the spine.
Yes, technology has evolved to allow your surgeon to perform this surgery using a minimally invasive approach. There is less tissue disruption that could be the ideal surgery for the right patient.
Reviewed by: Dr. Thomas Schuler, MD, FACS, FAAOS.