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Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery

What is Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) surgery?

A transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery is a type of spinal surgical procedure that uses an approach from the back and a little sideways to access the spinal column in order to stabilize the spine by replacing the damaged vertebral disc with a ‘spacer’ implant and help fusing together the consecutive vertebras.

Why do I need a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) surgery?


You might be in need of a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery if:

  • You are experiencing a damaged (or crushed) vertebral disc that is causing severe pressure on the nerve roots due to a previous surgery, constant back pain due to damaged vertebral disc, instability of the spine or a vertebral disc removal surgery would result in instability of the spine.
  • You are suffering from a lumbar canal stenosis or a lateral recess stenosis where there is significant amount of back pain due to a damaged vertebral disc, spinal instability or the surgery to remove a damaged disc is likely to cause an unstable spine.
  • A foraminal stenosis that causes vertebral pain (back pain) cannot be treated simply with a decompression procedure but would also require a spinal fusion.
  • You experience constant lumbar (lower back) pain.
  • Other methods of treatment have failed to successfully address the back pain.
  • You are suffering from spondylolisthesis (slipped disc)

What is the procedure for Spine Fusion using TLIF technique?

The transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery is performed through the back of the spine.

It involves:

  • Application of surgical hardware to the spinal column for promoting fusion between the vertebras. Involves fixing surgical screws and plates/rods to the back of the vertebra and placement of a ‘spacer’ implant made from medical-grade metal or plastic between the vertebras to replace the damaged vertebral disc.
  • A bone graft is placed in the back and laminal region of the vertebra to use as a fusion material. Bone graft is often harvested from the patient’s pelvis or else taken from a donor bone graft.
  • The bone graft solidifies and joins together the upper and the lower vertebra to form one single bone.

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This is basically a spinal fusion surgical procedure that uses a transforaminal (sideways) approach for the surgery. This procedure can be performed in the conventional (open type) surgical manner or as a minimally invasive procedure.

The procedure begins with administering general anesthesia to the patient and laying the patient on the stomach. The surgeon makes an incision in the back and the length of the incision in dependent on the number of vertebras that need to be treated for a conventional open-type.

The surgeon then shifts aside the underlying tissues from beneath the skin as well as the back muscles to gain a clear access to the spinal column. The damaged vertebral disc is removed from between the vertebras. Once the debris has been cleared from the gaps between the vertebras the surgeon will reshape the vertebras a little to accommodate the implants for bone fusion. The surgeon will then use specialized instruments to enlarge the gap between the vertebras in order to make sufficient space for the bone graft/implant. It helps relieve the pressure from the pinched nerves that was causing constant back pain in the patient.

The surgeon will then place a bone graft or a ‘spacer’ implant made from medical-grade plastic or metal to fill the gap caused by the removed vertebral disc. The bone graft helps in promoting fusion between the two consecutive vertebras to restrict movement between them, this helps in preventing the chances of other complications or back pain from arising in the future.

After the surgeon places the bone graft and the disc implant they will use a set of surgical metal screws and plates/rods to stabilize the two vertebras until the fusion gets completed.

This procedure is found to be more effective as the vertebral fusion is done in the front and the back of the vertebras.

Potential Benefits of a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) surgery


A transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) surgery has certain advantages over other forms of lumbar fusion surgeries. These are:

  • Enhanced bone fusion because bone graft is placed along both the grooves of the spine at the front and the back as well as in the disc space.
  • ‘Spacer’ inserted in the vertebral gap due to removal of vertebral disc helps restore original height and also relieves pressure from compressed nerve roots.
  • A TLIF procedure makes it easier and more convenient for the surgeon to access the gaps between the vertebras to insert the ‘spacer’ without damaging the nerve roots which reduces the chances of nervous complications arising.

Risks associated with a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery

These are certain potential risks and complications that may arise after a TLIF procedure in some cases:

  • Anesthetic complications
  • Infections
  • Blood loss (hemorrhage)
  • Nerve injury
  • Corrective re-surgery
  • Non-union of vertebras
  • Continued/increases back pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart failure
  • Blood clots
  • Stroke

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Cost of Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) surgery

The treatment cost of TLIF or any other surgical treatment is one of the most important deciding factors for the patient to choose their surgery location. The cost of TLIF in India is considerably low as compared to other developed countries. India has a vast network of orthopedic specialty hospitals and clinics that offer orthopedic surgical treatment with global-standard of quality at a low cost of around $8,000-$9,500 which is extremely low when compared with countries such as the UK and the USA.

How IndianMedTrip helps?

IndianMedTrip is a well-known medical tourism consultancy which has well-established contacts with a number of orthopedic specialty hospitals and clinics in all the major cities of India such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, etc to ensure that your trip for treatment to India is more convenient and hassle-free. IndianMedTrip ensures that all its patients get the most advanced and efficient TLIF surgery at the lowest cost in India.

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