Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (or “TLIF”) surgery is a procedure used to permanently join lumbar (lower back) vertebrae together for issues like severe curvature or spinal instability, or to close the physical gap left by a discectomy (spinal disc removal). Unlike standard anterior (front) or posterior (rear) approaches to performing a spinal fusion, a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion is considered a more intense, open-back procedure, and is usually only recommended by doctors as a last resort if other treatments have failed.
In addition to using bone grafts to fuse vertebrae like other lumbar spinal fusion procedures, TLIF surgery utilizes metal rods, screws and spacers to ensure appropriate spacing and rigidity. By placing bone grafts both along the outside of the spine as well as in the actual disc space, TLIF surgery is expected to form a more solid bone structure as the grafts take hold and the fusion area heals. A spacer is inserted in place of the disc to maintain the original height of the spine overall, and this particular approach helps the surgeon to insert it in a way that should theoretically be less damaging to the nerves in the area.
As with any surgery, it is important to discuss possible risks with the procedure and its recovery period. This may be even truer with more extensive procedures such as this one. By keeping an open discussion with your doctor regarding your general health, needs and preferences, you can remain in control of your treatment and find the solution that works best.
If you are suffering from lower back pain and/or disability due to severe degeneration of lumbar discs and all other treatments have failed, contact our office to set up an appointment with Dr. Neece to determine whether a discectomy with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion would be a good option for you.