Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Transfusional Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a contemporary approach to spinal fusion surgery. It is an operation performed on the lower back to remove an intervertebral disc and join two or more spinal bones (vertebrae) together using screws and a cage.

TLIF involves the following: 

  • Decompression of the nerves in the lower back
  • Removal of a facet joint
  • Removal of the intervertebral disc
  • Stabilization of the disc level by inserting screws into the bones above and below (pedicle screws)
  • Fusing the spine by inserting a cage filled with bone into the disc space (interbody fusion)

TLIF offers important advantages over the alternative surgical techniques of both a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and posterolateral instrumented fusion. 

Diagnosis

Making the diagnosis usually requires taking a history of the problem, as well as a neurological examination. The history (symptoms or complaints obtained from the patient) is the most important aspect of the assessment.

Your doctor may ask: 

  • Has there been an injury?
  • Where is the pain?
  • Is there any numbness?
  • Is there any weakness?
  • Have you had the same or a similar problem in the past?
  • Have you had any weight loss, fevers, or illnesses recently?
  • Have you had cancer in the past?
  • Are there any problems when you urinate or open your bowels?

Goals and Benefits

The goal of surgery includes: 

  • Reduction of leg pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness
  • Reduction of back pain
  • Stabilization of an unstable spine
  • Medication reduction
  • Prevention of deterioration
  • Improved lower back and leg function
  • Improved work and recreational capacity
  • Improved quality of life

Generally, the symptom that improves the most reliably after surgery is leg pain. Back pain also often improves, but occasionally can be worse. The next symptom to improve is usually weakness. Your strength may not return completely back to normal, however. Improvement in strength generally occurs over weeks and months. Numbness or pins and needles may or may not improve with surgery, due to the fact that the nerve fibers transmitting sensation are thinner and more vulnerable to pressure (they are more easily permanently damaged than the other nerve fibers). Numbness can take up to 12 months to improve if it does so.

The chance of obtaining a significant benefit from surgery depends upon a wide variety of factors. Your neurosurgeon will give you an indication of the likelihood of success in your specific case.

Cost

The cost of transfusional lumbar interbody fusion is based on several considerations. This can include both the extent of the procedure and a patient’s insurance carrier. Medicare can cover this procedure if it is deemed necessary treatment. BEST accepts Medicare, most private health insurances, and works with workers’ compensation claims and personal injury cases at all of our centers. 

Reach out to BEST Health System Today

To learn more about transfusional lumbar interbody fusion and if it is right for you, contact BEST Health System today. Our caring and experienced team of treatment professionals can help you develop a personalized treatment plan that is right for you. We are dedicated to getting you the quality of life you deserve.

Procedure Doctors

Headshot of Keith Girton, M.D.

Keith Girton, M.D.

Orthopaedic and Spine Surgeon

Best Surgery Center

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