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Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

What Is Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion?

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is an advanced form of spinal surgery. It’s performed to treat degenerative disc disease and other ailments in the lumbar spine of your lower back. During the procedure, a top spine surgeon first removes a damaged intervertebral disc and then inserts an artificial disc spacer and a bone graft to stabilize your spine. The graft helps fuse the two vertebral bones together.

Spinal doctors recommend TLIF as a solution if non-surgical procedures aren’t effective. This particular procedure is an improvement over other spinal fusion techniques, including anterior lumbar interbody fusion and posterior lumbar interbody fusion.

If you’re among the millions of Americans struggling with lower back pain, consult the best spinal specialist for an early diagnosis and treatment. The spinal surgeons at Premier Brain & Spine with locations in New Jersey and New York offer individualized spine treatments, including complex spinal procedures like TLIF.

How IS TLIF Surgery Different?

TLIF spinal surgery is a multi-step procedure that only an experienced, board certified spinal surgeon can perform. TLIF stands for the parts of the procedure:

  • Transforaminal. Your spinal doctor uses a surgical approach through your foramina, which are the openings in your vertebra for nerve roots. These nerves exit your spine to reach other parts of your body.
  • Lumbar. The lumbar spine is in your lower back. It carries most of your body weight. The intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine are prone to damage.
  • Interbody. Your spine has 33 vertebrae. Between each is a cushioning disc that can wear out with age. The TLIF procedure focuses on replacing a damaged disc.
  • Fusion. Spinal fusion joins two vertebral bones using a graft. The bones in your spine grow together into one to prevent lower back pain and offer stability.

Your NJ spine surgeon in Paterson, Edison, Union, Hackensack, Bayonne, Rutherford, Freehold, West Orange, and West Caldwell — or in Goshen, New York — recommends the best treatments to relieve your pain and strengthen your spine. With years of experience in spinal surgeries, these specialists pick the TLIF procedure if it’s the most appropriate for you.

Does TLIF Surgery Resolve My Spinal Problems?

Spinal surgeons rely on TLIF for several spine conditions. If you suffer debilitating lower back pain, one of the most likely causes is disc degeneration. TLIF surgery offers a permanent solution for disc degeneration and several other conditions related to spinal disc damage. TLIF surgery resolves issues such as:

If you have lower back problems caused by a damaged spinal disc, your doctor first tries conservative treatments to alleviate the symptoms. TLIF surgery becomes an option if non-surgical treatments fail. The spinal specialists at the NY and NJ spine pain center use the latest technology for effective treatments.

What Are the Advantages of TLIF Surgery?

The best spinal surgeons prefer TLIF surgery for several reasons, including:

  • Less nerve retraction, which reduces the risk of nerve damage
  • Better spine access and a larger working area
  • Improved nerve decompression
  • Promotion of spinal stability
  • Restoration of spinal height

Before the procedure, your doctor discusses these benefits and also highlights alternatives to TLIF. Any surgery carries risks, but when you put your trust in the experts at Premium Brain & Spine, you minimize the risks and maximize your chances for a complete recovery.

Am I a Candidate for TLIF Surgery?

Your doctor carries out tests to determine if you’re a suitable candidate for TLIF surgery. The spinal procedure may be right for you if:

  • You suffer chronic lower back pain.
  • You experience pain that radiates to your buttocks and legs
  • You have symptoms of nerve damage, including numbness, tingling or weakness.
  • Your pain worsens when sitting, bending or moving your lower back.
  • Restoration of spinal height

Lower back pain is the second most common cause of disability. It limits your ability to work and enjoy life. TLIF surgery improves symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease and gets you back to your normal routines. An early diagnosis saves you a lot of pain.

How Is TLIF Performed?

Your spinal doctor conducts extensive diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. You need an accurate diagnosis before treatment can begin. Your surgeon may recommend spinal fusion if other treatments have failed. The main steps in TLIF surgery include:

  1. Preparation. Before surgery, your doctor advises you to stop smoking and taking medications such as blood thinners and anti-clotting drugs. Your doctor may prescribe a zinc supplement before and after the surgery.
  2. Sedation. You’re given general anesthesia, which lets you sleep through the procedure.
  3. Incision. Your doctor identifies the site of the damaged disc and makes an incision in your back to gain access. For lateral access, your spinal surgeon may remove the facet joints, which protect the nerve roots.
  4. Removal of damaged disc. The doctor removes part of the damaged disc but leaves the wall to hold the interbody spacer and bone graft.
  5. Stabilization. Your spine surgeon inserts a bone graft to promote fusion. If necessary, screws and rods are added to support the lower spine.
  6. Closure. After the procedure, your doctor closes the incision and dresses it to avoid infection.

The procedure takes about three hours. The NJ spinal doctors at the advanced spine surgery center perform the procedure in their state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center.

What Can I Expect after TLIF Surgery?

TLIF is a major surgery and requires proper post-op care for the best results. After surgery common things to expect include:

  • Recovery at home, which means you have to arrange for a ride once you’re released
  • Immediate improvement leg or back pain and numbness
  • Driving yourself after about two weeks
  • No smoking to promote bone fusion
  • Physical therapy to help you learn how to get in and out of bed
  • Recovery at home, which means you have to arrange for a ride once you’re released
  • No strenuous activities for three months to encourage bone fusion
  • Reduced movement to avoid twisting your back
  • A follow-up appointment with your doctor

Your doctor provides post-op care instructions, based on your procedure to promote faster and effective healing. You don’t have to suffer lower back pain forever. Contact the spine specialists at Premier Brain & Spine to enjoy the best spinal procedures for a wide range of spine problems.

Updated on Jul 27, 2022 by Dr. David Wells-Roth (Neurosurgeon) of Premier Brain & Spine

Premier Brain & Spine
10 Parsonage Rd, Suite 208A
Edison, NJ 08837
(732) 258-0190