Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is a form of spine surgery in which the lumbar spine is approached through an incision in the lower back. It is routinely performed as an option for patients with spinal instability, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease that has not responded to conservative treatment. The surgery is performed to decompress nerves; ultimately, implants or spacers are placed into the disc spaces transforaminally (through the foramen) to aid in fusion and stabilize the spine.
Traditional, open spine surgery involves cutting or retracting the muscles from the spine. But today, a TLIF may be performed using minimally invasive spine surgery, a treatment that involves small incisions and muscle dilation and allows the surgeon to gently separate the muscles surrounding the spine. A minimally invasive approach preserves the surrounding muscular and vascular function and minimizes scarring. The result is an overall quicker recovery for the patient.