Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

TLIF is a type of spinal procedure in which the surgeon places a bone graft between affected vertebrae in the lower back region via an incision.


The doctor evaluates a patient’s age, activity levels, and medical condition to ascertain recommendation of the TLIF.

The follow conditions may lead to TLIF recommended by the doctor.

  • Damaged or degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Degenerative disc disease (damaged disc)

Some of the symptoms commonly associated with lumbar spinal instability include muscle weakness, spinal instability, numbness, and pain.

Treatment Procedure

An orthopedic surgeon may adopt the following procedure involving these steps.

  • A small incision made into the patient’s back over the affected vertebrae.
  • The surgeon encircles muscles affected to retract them for gaining easy accessibility to the spine.
  • Removal of the lamina covering the vertebra ensures easy viewing of the nerve roots.
  • The surgeon undercuts or trims the faced joints to have more space and access to the nerve roots.
  • The nerve roots are moved away for removing disc materials from anterior spine region.
  • The orthopedic surgeon uses screws and roots to stabilize the spine.
  • In the last step, the orthopedic surgeon re-approximates soft tissues and incision are closed.


The orthopedic surgeon usually allows a patient undergone TLIF surgery to get discharged the same day. However, depending on the condition of the patient, it may take longer. Patients usually feel an immediate improvement in some or all of their symptoms. It may, however, take longer for the patients to materialize real health benefits and improved spine mobility.

Associated Risks and Complications

Some of the risks and complications associated with TLIF include the following.

  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Blood loss
  • Blood clots
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection

One of the major risks involved in TLIF is the failure of fusion of vertebral bone and bone graft. In this case, the surgeon may suggest additional surgery.

Get in touch with Dr. Dave Watts today to discuss the best possible treatment for your orthopedic problems in Sioux Falls.