Mini Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (Mini-TLIF)

Mini-TLIF stands for Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion and is the angle taken when the surgeon gains access to the spine from a posterior approach but comes in from the side instead of a direct approach.

The surgery is a fusion in the lumbar region of the spine. The goal of the procedure is to help stabilize the spine by fusing the vertebrae together.

The surgery corrects problems with spinal vertebrae by fusing, or joining together, vertebrae with surgical hardware so they can heal into a single, solid bone. By fusing vertebrae, the procedure helps vertebrae stop rubbing or grinding together, a problem that leads to bone spurs, arthritis and other painful back issues. "Spinal fusion stops damaging motion between spinal vertebrae, which can lower pressure on surrounding nerves," Dr. Kadimcherla says. "Despite the trepidation, many feel when they hear "spinal fusion," the goal of the surgery is really quite simple."

During the procedure, a surgeon makes a small incision in the back and partially removes the damaged disc. Then, an implant is placed inside the disc to create space. After the implant is in place, the surgeon places screws and rods, as well as graft for additional support.


Mini TLIF Procedure Overview

What Are The Benefits of TLIF Surgery?

Patients who are recommended a TLIF surgery suffers from lower back pain that usually starts from the lower back and radiates all the way down to their feet. Patients with disc herniations, degenerative disc disease, and spondyolisthesis are usually candidates for this procedure. The success rates for a TLIF surgery is high, over 80% of patients who get a TLIF surgery are satisfied with the results. In fact, 70% of the pain is usually reduced according to several studies.

Mini-TLIF Can Be Used to Treat These Conditions:

  • Bulging Disc, which can happen as a result of a great amount of pressure being placed on the disc, or if the disc has degenerated from age and other factors.
  • Degenerative Disc Disease, also known as spinal disc degeneration, refers to changes in the spinal discs as a result of chronic wear and tear, injury, or natural aging that occurs over a long period of time.
  • Disc Tears can occur naturally or because of a trauma in a disc caused by repetitive exercises, lifting or as a result of an accident.
  • Failed Back & Neck Surgery symptom is diagnosed when a patient continues to experience pain or symptoms of a back condition even after a surgery.
  • Facet Joint Syndrome is an arthritis-like condition of the spine caused by degenerative changes to the joints between the spine bones.
  • Foraminal Stenosis refers to the narrowing of the intervertebral foramen, a small hole through which nerves exit our spinal canal and travel through our body, which compresses nerves causing pain, numbness, pins and needles or a tingling sensation, and weakness.

Any surgery has a number of potential risks and complications, which is also true for Mini-TLIF. The most important thing is to discuss possible risks with your medical team, as they can assess your condition, and the exact characteristics of the surgery needed, and so will be able to assess your personal potential risks. Such information will allow you to make a good and informed decision.

The risks and complications include excess bleeding during or after surgery, blood clots, as well as infections.

Some of the risks are more common than others, for example, many patients experience persistent postsurgical pain or weakness in muscles. Also, some patients don’t respond to anesthesia that well, which can result in future problems. Moreover, there can be some nerve damage. For instance, you can have temporary nerve swelling or even worse, a nerve injury.

Remember that this is the list of potential risks, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will experience them. Spine surgeries are quite routine surgeries that truly bring pain relief for many patients, so if you hesitate to visit a doctor, you only prolong the pain that you already have. Moreover, proper treatment reduces the chance of symptoms worsening.

Mini-TLIF recovery may differ based on the patient’s individual conditions. The state of a person’s health, the success rate of the surgery, and the characteristics of the exact condition all play a role in the recovery process.

In general, Mini-TLIF offers a relatively faster and smoother recovery period.

Most patients are able to walk immediately after the surgery, and they can return home the same day after the procedure, so there’s no need for an overnight stay in the hospital.

A full Mini-TLIF recovery takes about 6-12 weeks to return to normal daily activities.

During the recovery time, you should strictly follow the guidelines.

In some cases, patients are prescribed a brace. Such a brace helps control movements. Usually, a doctor will give instructions on the duration of wearing the brace. Moreover, it is highly recommended that you quit smoking. Not only does smoking affect your respiratory system, but also it slows down the recovery process, and it increases the chance of complications.

Try not to sit or lie for long periods other than during sleep, you should stand up and move frequently.

Follow basic post-surgery hygiene rules: don’t sleep with your pets, wash your linens as often as possible, and wear clean clothes.

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