Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a procedure that fuses the anterior and posterior columns of the spine through a posterior approach. A bone graft and interbody spacer stabilize the anterior portion while the posterior is locked in place with pedicle screws, rods and bone graft.

Spinal fusion (such as a TLIF) is a surgical technique to stabilize the spinal vertebra and the disc or shock absorber between the vertebra. Lumbar fusion surgery is designed to create solid bone between the adjoining vertebra, eliminating any movement between the bones. The goal of the surgery is to reduce pain and nerve irritation.

TLIF is an operation where the lumbar spine is approached from the side through an incision in the back. A portion of bone and disc are removed from the spine and replaced with an implant that is inserted into the disc space. Titanium or stainless steel screws and rods are inserted into the spine to ensure the stability of the entire construct.

Patients who are suffering from back and/or leg pain are potential candidates for the TLIF procedure. The causes of the pain may range from a natural degeneration of the disc space to some type of traumatic event.



The operation is performed with the patient lying on his or her stomach. An incision is made in the patient’s back to allow the surgeon access to the spine. The surgeon separates the muscle and tissue to be able to have a clear view of the spine. Once the spine is in view, the surgeon will remove a portion of bone from the appropriate areas of the spine to allow the surgeon to access the disc space. The surgeon will remove the disc material to allow the surgeon the insertion of an implant into the disc space. The surgeon will also insert titanium or stainless steel implants into the spine. The implant and the screws will help to restore the spine back to its normal anatomic condition.

After the surgery, the patient will normally stay in the hospital between 3-5 days. The specific time of stay in the hospital will depend on the patient and the surgeon’s specific post-operative surgical plan. The patient will normally be up and walking in the hospital by the end of the first day after the surgery. Your surgeon will have a specific post-operative recovery / exercise plan to help you return to normal life as soon as possible.