When non-operative treatment for degenerative disc disease or spinal instability (spondylolisthesis) has failed surgeons at the Center for Advanced Spine Care of Southern Arizona typically perform a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The condition of one vertebra sliping forward in relation to an adjacent vertebra is called spondylolisthesis. This typically occurs in the lumbar spine causing mechanical low back pain with activity, and pain in the thighs, and/or legs. In addition, it may cause muscle spasms, weakness, and/or tight hamstring muscles.

A TLIF can be done through open or mini-open incisions. TLIF lends itself well to minimally invasive techniques. A TLIF is designed to surgically remove   encroaching tissues over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to give the nerve root more space to reduce pain by placing fusion spacers in between the slipped vertebrae and by placing screws and rods to stablize the motion segment until bony fusion occurs.

spondy1  spondy2  splondy3






Lateral Xray of the lumbar spine showing slippage of L4 on L5, Posterior-Anterior View of a L5/S1 fusion model with pedicle screws in the middle, anterior view of model L5/S1 interbody fusion with a cage on the right.

Surgeons at the Center for Advanced Spine Care of Southern Arizona typically perform this operation through two small paraspinal incisions in the lower back. Often patients are able to go home after an overnight stay. Sometimes, patients need to stay longer for pain control and observation. We typically employ a pain pump for postoperative pain control that you may take home. Please check out our postop instructions for lumbar spinal fusion surgery.

Please call us for an appointment if you are having unrelenting back and leg painwith ambulation that has not improved with physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and pain medication, spinal injections, and watchful waiting. We would be glad to render an opinion as to whether a TLIF could reduce your symptoms and improve your function.



Center for Advanced Spine Care of Southern Arizona, 4787 E. Camp Lowell Drive, Tucson AZ 85712

Re: Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Phone: 520-204-1495, Fax: 623-218-1215

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