Minimally Invasive TLIF in Boston, MA
Minimally-Invasive TLIF (Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion) is used to remove a degenerated disc to relieve the compression of nerve roots in the lumbar spine. It is performed through a small incision on the back.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a degenerated disc in the Boston area and need surgery, contact Boston’s leading spine surgeon Frank Pedlow, MD today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Pedlow has more than 30 years of experience as a spine surgeon, and was named Top Spine Doctor in Boston in 2021. Give our office a call at (617) 227-9300 or request an appointment through our secure online form.
Preparing for Minimally Invasive TLIF
After anesthesia has been administered and the patient is positioned face down, Dr. Pedlow uses a portable x-ray machine to identify the diseased vertebral level or levels. Then, the surgeon makes the smallest possible incision in the skin directly above the target level.
During the Procedure
Accessing the Vertebra
A series of dilators of increasing size are carefully passed through muscles and soft tissue using the guidance of the portable x-ray machine. Dr. Pedlow slides a tubular retractor over the dilators and removes the dilators, creating a working channel that leaves muscle tissue intact. This working channel allows him to access the target vertebra and painful nerve root in a way that minimizes incisional pain and scarring of the muscles.
Dr. Pedlow may use a microscope or endoscope to direct surgical instruments through the working channel. First, he removes bone at the rear of the vertebrae to create an opening. This opening will provide a clear route to the degenerated disc. Dr. Pedlow works through this opening to carefully remove the disc. Some of the disc wall is left behind to help contain the bone graft.
Bone Graft Inserted
An implant filled with bone graft is placed in the empty disc space. This lifts the vertebrae to the proper height, realigning the vertebral bones and relieving painful pressure from pinched nerve roots.
Dr. Pedlow will also place fusion instrumentation for additional support, most commonly screws and rods. In some cases, these may be implanted on both sides of the spine. Bone graft may also be placed along the hardware. Over time, the bone graft will grow through and around the implants, forming a bone bridge that connects the vertebral bodies above and below. This solid bone bridge is called a fusion.
After Minimally Invasive TLIF
The instruments are removed, and the incision is closed and bandaged. Most patients are discharged from the hospital the following day and can return to their usual activity level within a few weeks of surgery. The patient may take pain medication to relieve incisional pain, but usually this is needed for less than one to two weeks.