Utilizing a combination of rods and screws as well as the placement of a bone graft, minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion is a procedure used to stabilize and fuse together an abnormal or deformed adult spine.
Typical candidates for minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion are those suffering from a form of scoliosis (an abnormal curvature of the spine), spondylolisthesis (a slipped vertebra) or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spinal canal). Repeated disc ruptures and disc herniations can also be treated with the surgery, as can most conditions where the spinal column needs to be stabilized.
Once a patient has been placed face down and is under general anesthetic, a surgeon, with the help of x-ray imaging, makes a small incision in the back, moving aside the muscles and tissues using a series of larger and larger dilators and creating a clear path to affected vertebra. Surgical instruments move through this path to remove damaged or deteriorated discs and tissue, and any nerves present are carefully pushed aside.
Screws and rods are used to stabilize the space between the vertebrae, and the placement of a bone graft helps fuse the two vertebrae together. Any pressure on spinal nerves is now relieved, and the patient is typically discharged the same day and advised to rest and avoid any strenuous activities that may impede the healing process.
Because this type of fusion is minimally invasive, no tissue around the site of the procedure is impacted, and therefore an alleviation of symptoms and overall recovery occurs relatively quickly. Risks from the surgery are rare, but may include bruising at the incision site as well as mild bleeding, damage to nerve roots and infections.