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If you experience chronic lower back pain and you aren't finding relief through performing physical therapy or taking anti-inflammatory painkillers, minimally invasive spinal surgery may be the best option for you. One common minimally invasive procedure is transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, which is usually referred to as TLIF. TLIF is a good option for people who are worried about a lengthy recovery time after surgery since it can be performed with very little damage to the muscles that surround your spine.
TLIF is also typically effective at treating lower back pain long-term. As a spinal fusion surgery, two of your vertebrae will be fused together with a bone graft during the procedure, which makes it unlikely that they will shift out of place and cause your pain to come back. If you're suffering from chronic lower back pain and think that surgery might be your best option, read on to learn more about TLIF and how it can help.
What Is Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion?
TLIF is a surgical procedure that fuses two vertebrae in your lumbar spine together in order to make them more stable. It can be performed with very little disruption to surrounding tissues since the surgical instruments are routed through natural openings in your vertebrae (called foramina) in order to perform the procedure.
Your vertebrae are fused together using a bone graft, which can be made from either donor bone tissue or your own bone. Titanium rods and screws will be placed into your vertebrae in order to prevent them from shifting around while they grow into the bone graft. After they've grown into the graft, the two vertebrae in your lumbar spine will be permanently fused together.
What Causes of Lower Back Pain Can TLIF Treat?
Since the TLIF procedure provides added stability to your vertebrae, it's typically performed to treat lumbar spondylosis, which happens when one vertebra shifts far forwards or backwards out of position. The shifted vertebra creates pressure on the nerves in your spine, resulting in chronic back pain. Repositioning the shifted vertebra will relieve pressure on the nerves in your spine, and fusing it to an adjacent vertebra will ensure that it doesn't shift out of position again.
TLIF can also be used to treat other causes of chronic lower back pain, like spinal stenosis or a herniated disc. Spinal stenosis happens when a portion of your spinal canal becomes narrowed, allowing your vertebrae to press on the nerves in your spine, and a herniated intervertebral disc can place pressure on your nerves as its contents bulge out towards it. As part of the procedure, the intervertebral disc between the two vertebrae that are being fused will be removed and replaced with a spacer, preventing a herniated disc from placing excessive pressure on the nerves in your spine. In addition, the surgeon will need to file down a portion of your vertebrae in order to force them to grow into the bone graft. This widens your spinal canal and keeps bone from pressing against the nerves in your spine, which is how TLIF can prevent pain from spinal stenosis.
What Are the Advantages of Minimally Invasive TLIF?
When you need to have surgery on your spine in order to treat chronic lower back pain, TLIF is a good option due to the fact that it can be performed in a minimally invasive manner. Since the procedure is performed by inserting all of the surgical instruments into the foramina in your vertebrae, there's very little need to damage the tissues that surround them. The surgical instruments can reach the foramina through a very small incision in your skin.
In addition, tubular retractors are used to push your muscles aside to allow the surgical instruments to reach the foramina. Typical spinal surgery approaches involve cutting through muscles in order to expose your vertebra, which results in a long recovery time after the surgery while you wait for your damaged muscles to heal.
Overall, minimally invasive TLIF is an excellent option for anyone who suffers from chronic lower back pain, as it's able to treat a wide range of spinal problems and it has a short recovery time. If you suffer from lower back pain and your current treatments aren't reducing the level of pain that you experience, surgery may be the best option. Contact a neurosurgeon or orthopedic surgeon in your area to see if you're a good candidate for minimally invasive spinal surgery, as TLIF can often provide a significant reduction in the level of pain that you experience.