Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Spinal fusion is an approach to relieving chronic low back pain and/or leg that failed to improve with conservative, non-operative measures. It involves creating an environment in the spine where two or more previously separated vertebral bodies are encouraged to grow together and become one bone. Transforaminal lumbar fusion is one approach to accomplish this through the back of the spine. Transforaminal lumbar fusion is very similar to posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) except the physician is able to do this through a smaller surface incision. Many surgeons view this type of procedure under the category of minimally invasive surgery because it allows for a somewhat quicker recovery through a smaller incision. The details of this surgery are very similar to the PLIF but this procedure is done through a slightly more lateral approach and allows the procedure to be done with a slightly smaller incision. Please see our page on posterior lumbar interbody fusion and talk with your surgeon for details.

Information on Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Patients who have had chronic back pain that failed to improve with conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and lumbar injections may be candidates for this procedure.
  • Your doctor would expose spine from the back and remove some bone to expose and decompress any pinched nerves.
  • The disc at that region of the spine would be removed and replaced with a cage (a container filled with bone) to initiate the fusion/bone growth process.
  • Screws and rods connecting the bones above and below the disc would be placed to stabilize that region.
  • Some of the previously collected bone will be recycled and placed back onto the spine to aid in the fusion. In some instances, donated processed bone may be used as well.
  • You may be in the hospital for 3-5 days for monitoring. You will work with physical therapy during that time. Some patients may need rehab after surgery. This decision may be made in the hospital or after your follow up with your doctor at the 6-week visit.
  • Your doctor may ask you to wear a back brace and limit your activity for 6 weeks as the spine heals.  These restrictions include no bending, lifting, or twisting.

There are risks associated with any procedure:

  • Spinal fluid leak
  • Nerve injury
  • New back or leg pain
  • Hardware failure (screw loosening, breakage)
  • Adjacent segment disc degeneration (which could require additional surgery in the future)
  • Infection
  • Bleeding

Prior to the procedure

  • Exercise is encouraged
  • Discontinue blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix, Motrin, Aleve, Coumadin. Avoid weight loss supplements and fish oil.
  • Quitting smoking and/or drinking 6 weeks prior to the procedure is encouraged

After the Procedure

  • Your doctor may ask you to wear a back brace and limit your activity for 6 weeks as the spine heals. These restrictions include no bending, lifting, or twisting.
  • Contact your doctor of there is fever, bleeding or drainage from the wound.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion FAQs

Will I be able to bend after the procedure?2022-03-04T18:27:36+00:00

Yes. While two or more of the bones of the spine will be fixated, you will still be able to bend.

Will I be able to have an MRI?2022-03-04T18:31:32+00:00

Yes. The implants used are made of titanium which are safe for use in MRI machines.

How soon can I drive after the procedure?2022-03-04T18:30:51+00:00

It may not be safe to drive immediately after the procedure due to the effects of anesthetics and pain medications. Discuss this with your doctor.

The above information is for general education purposes only. Please ask your doctor specific questions during your visit.

Spinal fusion is an approach to relieving chronic low back pain and/or leg that failed to improve with conservative, non-operative measures. It involves creating an environment in the spine where two or more previously separated vertebral bodies are encouraged to grow together and become one bone. Transforaminal lumbar fusion is one approach to accomplish this through the back of the spine. Transforaminal lumbar fusion is very similar to posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) except the physician is able to do this through a smaller surface incision. Many surgeons view this type of procedure under the category of minimally invasive surgery because it allows for a somewhat quicker recovery through a smaller incision. The details of this surgery are very similar to the PLIF but this procedure is done through a slightly more lateral approach and allows the procedure to be done with a slightly smaller incision. Please see our page on posterior lumbar interbody fusion and talk with your surgeon for details.

Information on Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Patients who have had chronic back pain that failed to improve with conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and lumbar injections may be candidates for this procedure.
  • Your doctor would expose spine from the back and remove some bone to expose and decompress any pinched nerves.
  • The disc at that region of the spine would be removed and replaced with a cage (a container filled with bone) to initiate the fusion/bone growth process.
  • Screws and rods connecting the bones above and below the disc would be placed to stabilize that region.
  • Some of the previously collected bone will be recycled and placed back onto the spine to aid in the fusion. In some instances, donated processed bone may be used as well.
  • You may be in the hospital for 3-5 days for monitoring. You will work with physical therapy during that time. Some patients may need rehab after surgery. This decision may be made in the hospital or after your follow up with your doctor at the 6-week visit.
  • Your doctor may ask you to wear a back brace and limit your activity for 6 weeks as the spine heals.  These restrictions include no bending, lifting, or twisting.

There are risks associated with any procedure:

  • Spinal fluid leak
  • Nerve injury
  • New back or leg pain
  • Hardware failure (screw loosening, breakage)
  • Adjacent segment disc degeneration (which could require additional surgery in the future)
  • Infection
  • Bleeding

Prior to the procedure

  • Exercise is encouraged
  • Discontinue blood thinners such as aspirin, Plavix, Motrin, Aleve, Coumadin. Avoid weight loss supplements and fish oil.
  • Quitting smoking and/or drinking 6 weeks prior to the procedure is encouraged

After the Procedure

  • Your doctor may ask you to wear a back brace and limit your activity for 6 weeks as the spine heals. These restrictions include no bending, lifting, or twisting.
  • Contact your doctor of there is fever, bleeding or drainage from the wound.

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion FAQs

Will I be able to bend after the procedure?2022-03-04T18:27:36+00:00

Yes. While two or more of the bones of the spine will be fixated, you will still be able to bend.

Will I be able to have an MRI?2022-03-04T18:31:32+00:00

Yes. The implants used are made of titanium which are safe for use in MRI machines.

How soon can I drive after the procedure?2022-03-04T18:30:51+00:00

It may not be safe to drive immediately after the procedure due to the effects of anesthetics and pain medications. Discuss this with your doctor.

The above information is for general education purposes only. Please ask your doctor specific questions during your visit.

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