Minimally invasive TLIF, or transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, is a procedure used to treat a broad range of conditions that lead to reduced disc height, spinal compression and instability. MIS (minimally invasive) techniques provide substantial advantages over open surgeries, and can provide better results for patients in terms of pain relief and quality of life after the procedure. This form of spinal fusion does not rely on plates and screws as do many traditional (and some MIS) procedures. Rather, it uses rods and pedicle screws to fuse the vertebras together. To find out if minimally invasive TLIF is the right option for your situation, contact Dr. Chetan Patel at AdventHealth Medical Group Spine Health by calling Call407-303-5452.

How the Surgery Works

Minimally invasive TLIF relies on the use of micro-tools and graduated dilators to access the spine. In traditional open surgery, the surgeon would make a large incision directly over the spine, and then cut through the muscle tissue to access the affected vertebras. With MIS techniques, the incision is made to the side of the spine, and the incision size is very small, usually only an inch or less. Graduated dilators are used to gradually part the muscle tissue rather than cutting through them.

TLIF does require that a portion of vertebral bone be removed. In most cases, this is the lamina of the vertebra – the bony dome that covers the back of the spinal canal. Through this opening, the surgeon can access the disc and remove it. Bone graft material is also placed inside the vertebra, as well as around it so that fusion can take place.

Minimally invasive TLIF usually relies on pedicle screws and rods to connect the vertebral levels being fused, though plates and screws can also be used. Wires and hooks are not generally used in this type of surgery, though.

A Note on Bone Graft Material

Bone graft material comes in several types – often, the patient’s own bone is harvest from a site on the hip. However, this is not always the case. Using donor bone (called allograft), reduces the healing time for the patient. In addition, BMP, or bone morphogenetic protein, can also be used instead of natural bone.

Recovery Time after TLIF

Minimally invasive procedures offer greatly reduced recovery times compared to traditional open surgeries, and minimally invasive TLIF is no exception to this rule. Most patients are able to go home the same day as their surgery, though some may have to spend a day in the hospital for examination. Most patients also report that the pain due to spinal compression and disc degeneration lessens almost immediately. Patients will also be required to undertake an exercise and physical therapy regimen, but this is much less intensive than what open surgery patients must endure.

Minimally invasive TLIF is a beneficial procedure that can provide enhanced spinal stability and reduce pain. To find out if this procedure is right for your specific situation, you will need to consult with Dr. Chetan Patel at AdventHealth Medical Group Spine Health. Call Call407-303-5452 to set up an appointment.