During the TLIF procedure, the patient lies face down on a bed designed especially for the procedure.
Through an incision on your back, the surgeon begins by accessing the section of the spine that needs to be fused. First, any bone spurs and disc material pressing on the nerve is removed and the opening around the nerve enlarged. Then the surgeon will remove almost the entire disc between the vertebrae to create a clean space for fusion between the bones. If the disc has collapsed from disease, the vertebrae are moved back into normal position.
The surgeon then prepares the area where the disc was removed so that the spinal implant can be placed for support. After measuring the size of the space, the surgeon inserts an implant made of bone or a synthetic material into the disc space. This implant gives critical support to the spine and aids bone fusion. The surgeon then places bone graft or other special material into the space around the implant to stimulate bone growth- which will take several months.
Then, on the back part of the vertebrae, small screws called pedicle screws are inserted into the bone, and connecting rods are inserted into the screws to give the spine extra stability. This holds everything in place as it heals, and allows for more activities after surgery. Over time, the vertebrae will grow together, or fuse.
After surgery, patients typically stay in the hospital three to five days.