Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a type of spinal fusion that is often performed as a minimally-invasive surgical (MIS) procedure. TLIF is employed to restore disc height and permanently fuse damaged or displaced vertebrae in the lower back. Unlike open surgery, The minimally-invasive TLIF approach allows the lumbar spine to be accessed through a small incision in the back with muscle dilation gently separating the muscles surrounding the spine rather than cutting them allowing minimal disruption of muscle and soft tissue. This type of procedure is typically less traumatic and disruptive to the body than traditional surgical approaches and often permits a faster recovery for the patient.

Conditions such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis can cause spinal instability and considerable pain. The goal of TLIF is to stabilize the spine by restoring disc height and fusing the vertebrae together, thereby enhancing spinal stability and alleviating nerve compression.

Details of the procedure:

  • The affected vertebra/disc is accessed from the side of the spinal canal through small incisions in the back usually measuring 30mm.
  • A small portion of the vertebral bone is removed to allow access to the disc
  • The damaged portion of the disc is removed
  • The empty disc space is filled with bone graft to restore disc height and relieve nerve compression
  • Instrumentation (e.g., screws, rods) is implanted for extra support

Bone graft

is used in spinal fusion procedures to help the spine fuse. There are different types of bone graft such as autograft (patient’s own bone), allograft (donor bone), and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP). Bone graft is packed in/around the empty disc space and spinal instrumentation.


includes implants such as rods, plates, screws, interbody devices, cages, and hooks. Implanted instrumentation immediately stabilizes the spine after surgery and helps to maintain proper alignment while fusion occurs.

After surgery

this minimally-invasive procedure allows many patients to be discharged to home the day after surgery; however, some patients may require a longer hospital stay. Many patients will notice immediate improvement of some or all of their symptoms; however, other symptoms may improve more gradually. It may take 3 to 6 months or longer for the bones to fuse and the spine to heal fully.