Minimally-Invasive TLIF

(Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion)

This minimally invasive procedure is used to remove a degenerated disc to relieve the compression of nerve roots in the lumbar spine. It is performed through a small incision on the back.

How is the procedure performed?

After anesthesia has been administered and the patient is positioned face down, the surgeon used a portable x-ray machine to identify the diseased vertebral level or levels. Then, the surgeon makes the smallest possible incision in the skin directly above the level.

A series of dilators of increasing size are carefully passed through muscles and soft tissue using the guidance of the portable x-ray machine. The surgeon slides a tubular retractor over the dilators and removes the dilators, creating a working channel that leaves muscle tissue intact. This working channel allows the surgeon to access the target vertebra and painful nerve root in a way that minimizes incisional pain and scarring of the muscles.

The surgeon uses a microscope or endoscope to direct surgical instruments through the working channel. First, the surgeon removes bone at the rear of the vertebrae to create an opening. This opening will provide a clear route to the degenerated disc. The surgeon works through this opening carefully to remove the disc. Some of the disc wall is left behind to help contain the bone graft.

How long will it take to recover?

This minimally invasive procedure allows most patients to return home the day after the surgery; however each patient may vary depending on specific medical needs. Many patients will notice immediate relief of symptoms. A bone fusion takes 3-6 months or more to fully heal so it is important to be patient. Most patients are approved for light duty work (office work) in 4-6 weeks.

What are the risks?

As with most surgeries there is a risk of bleeding, infection, stroke, coma, heart attack and death.

Specific risks associated with Minimally Invasive TLIF include:

  • Nerve injury
  • Hardware failure
  • Fusion failure

When should I call my doctor?

You should call us if you experience:

  • A temperature of 101.1° or above.
  • Increasing redness and swelling at the incision site.
  • Chest pain or shortness of breath.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Changes in the amount, appearance, or odor of drainage from your incision.
  • New or increased changes in sensation/presence of numbness in extremities.
  • Severe pain that is not relieved by medication and rest.
  • Problems with your walking or balance
  • Questions or problems not covered by these instructions