Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)

Fusions are performed in patients with degenerative disk disease, spondylolysthesis, recurrent herniated disks, and spinal stenosis.

In fusion of the lumbar spine two or more vertebral segments are joined together, eliminating movement in the joints. The procedure is performed with the hope of reducing pain caused by movement and associated compression of the nerve roots.

While there are numerous methods available to fuse the spine, in patients whose pathology allows it, the TLIF procedure can be minimally invasive. This means that there is a reduction in the amount of muscle and skin that is damaged during surgery and there is less blood loss and post operative pain. Potentially recovery time is quicker as well.

The TLIF Procedure  

Fig. 1: Under x-ray fluoroscopic viewing, a guide wire followed by a dilator is placed in the appropriate location at the intervertebral space to be fused.

Fig. 2: Additional dilators are then placed over the guide wire in progressively larger sizes.


Fig. 3: A tube is then placed over the dilator and the dilator removed. Instruments are used inside the tube to remove disk material and make a space for the bone implant or fusion cage.


Fig. 4: The bone implant (Medtronic Boomerang shown here) or cage is inserted. Often, percutaneous pedicle screws are inserted to stabilize the joint while fusion occurs. More information on percutaneous pedicle screws can be found by clicking here.


Your doctor will provide details of the procedure that is right for you as well as the benefits and risks. He will also provide instructions for your care before and after the procedure.


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