Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)

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What is a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)?

A Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is a minimally invasive procedure in which your surgeon extracts damaged disc material and uses metallic hardware to reinforce the spine.

A vast majority of back pain cases affect the lumbar spine—the portion of the spine that makes up the lower back. Composed of the 5 largest vertebrae in your spine, this region of the spine bears the majority of the body’s weight and endures the brunt of compressive forces to the spine. The constant use of these vertebrae can be enough to induce damage and pain, but other possible causes of low back pain include: bulging or herniated discs, spondylolisthesis (a slipped vertebra), spinal tumors, bone spurs, or spinal injuries (etc.)

Each of these conditions can generate pain by pinching the spinal cord or nerves. When a spinal nerve become compressed, it can result in localized discomfort, pain that radiates down into the legs, and/or muscular spasms and weakness. In extreme cases, paralysis, immobility, and loss of bowel or bladder control can occur.

Treatment of these conditions and their often debilitating symptoms almost always begins with a course of conservative therapy. These modalities can include options such as pain management, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes involving weight management or exercise. When these routes to relief do not effectively remedy the problem, surgery may be indicated.


A minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is a viable option for the relief of low back pain. A TLIF is a multistep procedure that removes damaged and pain-inducing tissues, while simultaneously installing metallic hardware and a bone graft that reinforces the spine. With the patient under general anesthesia, your surgeon will make a small incision toward the side of the back, at the level of the problematic vertebrae. Using a long tube to carefully push muscles to the side, your surgeon will access the damaged material through a tube that is inserted into the foramina. Your foramina are tiny openings on the backside of your vertebrae that function as exit doors for spinal nerves. Your surgeon will broaden the foramina, creating extra space to decompress your pinched nerves.

After all damaged tissues are extracted, your surgeon will advance to the fusion portion of the surgery. The fusion is a multistep process, that will begin with the insertion of an implant to restore vertebral height. Screws will be inserted on both sides of the implant to help provide for additional support. The final step in the process involves the insertion of a rod and screws to provide extra stability as the fusion heals.

A TLIF is a sophisticated and somewhat complicated procedure, despite its status as a minimally invasive intervention. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Frazier fully comprehends the ins and outs of minimally invasive care. As a leader in his field, Dr. Frazier will provide innovative and personalized solutions to back pain that will optimize your recovery time.

Can a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) help me?

Answer questions about your pain history & we'll recommend the best treatment options for you.

What are the Benefits of a Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)?

Advancements in the instruments, techniques, and outcomes of spinal surgery have improved exponentially over years and years of research and development. Whereas traditional fusions once required large incisions, bulky hardware, and excruciating recoveries, minimally invasive techniques provide exactly the opposite. Some of the benefits of a TLIF include:

  • Smaller Incisions: Smaller and fewer incisions result in less blood loss, less scarring, and a shorter recovery time.
  • Less Trauma to the Body: With an approach that bypasses the large and strong muscles in the back, you can expect less postoperative pain and time to recuperate.
  • Shorter Hospital Stays: A TLIF often requires a hospital stay of only 1-2 days.
  • Less Recovery Time: Less trauma to the tissues of the body ensures that you can return to your everyday activities as soon as possible.

The benefits of a minimally invasive TLIF speak for themselves, especially when considering the painful and complicated conditions that it can treat. The surgical team at NYC Spine is exceedingly experienced when it comes to these situations and will work with you to address any your questions or concerns. If a TLIF is the right course of treatment for you, then you can rest assured that NYC Spine will help you reclaim your life.

How do I know if I need a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)?

Request a free MRI review & our world-renowned orthopedic spine surgeon, Dr. Frazier, will evaluate your treatment needs.

Do I Qualify for a Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)?

Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) can be a valuable option for anyone who is experiencing pinched nerves or vertebral instability of the lumbar spine. Whatever the cause of your low back pain, it is important to consult with a qualified spine surgeon before deciding to have surgery.

Please bear in mind that some situations may bar an individual from receiving a TLIF procedure. One such situation involves a previous failed fusion of the spine. Other situations include: infection near the location of the proposed surgery, severe structural instability of the vertebrae, or other serious medical conditions. Only a surgeon can tell you for sure whether you qualify for a TLIF—so call NYC Spine today!

With over 20 years of surgical experience in his field, Dr. Frazier’s expertise and knowledge will empower you to define your recovery process. You will feel like a member of the team as you collaborate closely with our professionals at NYC Spine. We look forward to helping you reclaim your life!

Am I a candidate for a Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF)?

Determine your eligibility for conservative & minimally invasive treatments.

Dr. Frazier is a Harvard-trained, board certified orthopedic spine surgeon. He’s held an academic appointment at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York’s SUNY Downstate. Dr. Frazier is also a respected lecturer, accomplished researcher, published author on spine disorders and treatment, and a consultant for several international spine companies.

After completing his undergraduate education at Brown University, Dr. Frazier attended Harvard Medical School, where he graduated cum laude. He completed a Harvard internship based at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, MA, followed by a Harvard combined residency before becoming chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Education & Training

  • MD / Cum Laude

    Harvard Medical School

  • Chief Resident

    Mass. General Hospital

  • Lecturer

    Columbia University

  • Spinal Deformity Fellowship

    Doctor’s Hospital (Miami, FL)