TLIF or Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Individuals struggling with the agonizing symptoms of degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis or disc herniation often feel as though they have run out of options in terms of achieving real relief.

When more conservative treatments such as medication, physical therapy, bracing or nerve injections have failed to resolve chronic pain and mobility loss, all too many patients begin to experience a profound sense of hopelessness.

However, it is important for affected individuals to know that a lasting solution may indeed be within reach. Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a spinal fusion procedure designed to provide restoration of disc height while also fusing displaced or damaged vertebrae in the lumbar region.

The end result of a successful TLIF procedure is a dramatic reduction of or elimination of spinal nerve compression as well as increased overall spinal stability. For many patients, fusion of this type can be accomplished in a minimally invasive manner, making the process more convenient and less disruptive than ever before.

Purpose of TLIF Procedure

Ultimately, a lumbar fusion of this type will be performed in order to eliminate the portion of a damaged or diseased disc determined to be impinging on a nerve root within the spine. The objective is to relieve the back pain, muscle weakness and tingling that frequently results from such a circumstance. Of course, once the problematic disc is eradicated, it will be necessary to restore stability to the spine itself.

The way in which this task is accomplished will likely depend on whether the fusion process selected is the traditional sort or the more modern, minimally invasive option. The former option makes use of metal screws and rods as a means to accomplish the fusion of the vertebrae, the latter utilizes artificial disc material and bone grafts instead.

Available Approaches

Potential candidates for TLIF are well-advised to gain an understanding of the important differences between traditional surgery and minimally invasive opportunities. Conventional TLIF involves the making of a substantial incision which necessarily involves critical muscles and soft tissues adjacent to the spine.

This reality can put patients at greater risk of substantial scarring, nerve damage as well as infection. By contrast, minimally invasive TLIF makes use of much smaller incisions, prevents disturbance of the nearby muscles and greatly reduces complication risks.

It should also be noted that traditional TLIF procedures require the use of metal hardware to accomplish vertebral fusion at the site of the absent disc. Though the resulting stabilization is beneficial, the rigidity of the materials used restricts movement in that region for the remainder of the patient’s life.

Minimally invasive TLIF involves placement of an artificial disc for stabilization purposes, something which facilitates greater post-operative movement, a top priority for many patients.

Benefits of This Procedure

While surgical intervention is something which should always be given careful consideration, those who undergo TLIF can expect to experience a number of notable benefits, which may include:

  • Reduced need for medications
  • Lessening or elimination of back pain
  • Reduction in numbness, weakness and tingling in legs
  • Improvement in leg and back function
  • Increased quality of life
  • Spine stabilization
  • Restoration of ability to work

Furthermore, patients who opt for minimally invasive TLIF can anticipate a shorter recovery period than would be likely with a traditional, open back procedure. The risks of infection, substantial scarring and blood loss are considerably lower as well, making minimally invasive techniques a wise choice for many.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) Professionals

With some degree of back pain impacting nearly 80 percent of all Americans at one time or another, it is not uncommon for sufferers to simply grin and bear the discomfort until it eventually subsides. However, for a significant number of individuals, the problems faced are truly debilitating and, in the absence of intervention, likely permanent in nature.

Fortunately, viable surgical solutions exist which can bring dramatic improvement to those who may have lost hope of reclaiming mobility and a lifestyle free from pain. To discover how you may be able to benefit from TLIF, contact us today.