FAQ 2018-03-19T12:27:46+00:00


What is MIS TLIF?

A Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (MIS TLIF) is an innovative surgical procedure used for stabilizing your lumbar vertebrae – the spinal bones of your low back. Over the last decade, surgeons have increasingly used MIS TLIF over traditional open TLIF surgery to help relieve back pain from degenerative disk disease, lower spine misalignments, and resolve symptoms of lumbar disk herniation like numbness and tingling in the buttocks and legs.

How does it work?

How does MIS TLIF work?

Using a very small incision, often only 1 inch in size, your surgeon will use x-ray guided tools to locate the area of concern. The surgeon then retracts the muscles in this area by cutting them, removes part of the damaged vertebrae, and inserts small spacer hardware to secure the area and provide better alignment of the spine. The small pieces of hardware allow your surgeon to fuse two or more vertebrae, providing stability and pain relief. The entire procedure can be done in a matter of hours.


What are the benefits of MIS TLIF?

Some of the benefits of choosing MIS TLIF over traditional open spinal fusion surgery include:

  • Smaller incision and smaller resulting scars
  • No surgical cutting of muscle
  • Less blood loss and tissue damage
  • Shorter procedure time
  • Shorter recovery time
  • Briefer hospital stay
  • More stable spine immediately after surgery
  • Better spinal alignment immediately after surgery


Who Qualifies for MIS TLIF?

Only you and your doctor can decide if MIS TLIF is the correct surgical procedure for your individual needs. Often you will need to undergo testing like X-ray, CT scan, and/or MRI to correctly identify the cause of your pain and establish a plan for managing that pain.

Good candidates for the procedure will typically first need to try conservative measures like physical therapy, medication, and injections to relieve their symptoms. Also, some medical conditions such as bleeding problems, heart issues, certain cancers, and systemic disorders may preclude you from undergoing a MIS TLIF procedure.

Recovery Time

What is the Recovery Time from a MIS TLIF?

Patients will generally spend 24 hours to four days in the hospital after their MIS TLIF. If you have an office job, you will typically be back at work within three to six weeks after the procedure. You will need to refrain from lifting heavy objects for a while as instructed by your surgeon. You will also need to participate in postoperative physical therapy sessions as ordered.


What are the risks associated with MIS TLIF?

Every surgical procedure, no matter how minor, carries inherent risks. These risks include uncontrolled bleeding, unintentional damage to nearby structures, infection, and others. However, a TLIF is a generally safe operation, and minimally invasive procedures tend to be associated with fewer complications than traditional open procedures.


Are There Any Studies on the Effectiveness of MIS TLIF?

Yes. Doctors and researchers have published many studies concerning the clinical outcomes of a minimally-invasive approach to TLIF surgery. For example, a study appearing in the Journal of the Korean Neurosurgical Society in 2010 looked at 20 patients who underwent MIS TLIF. The vast majority of these patients had excellent fusion outcomes when examined 12 months after surgery.

A more recent 2014 study in World Neurosurgery comparing 50 open TLIF and 50 MIS TLIF patients concluded that “MIS TLIF resulted in reduced operative blood loss, hospital stay and 2-year cost, and accelerated return to work.” Finally, a 2016 paper in the American Journal of Orthopedics demonstrated that MIS TLIF patients had less pain, debility, and muscle dissection two years after surgery versus open TLIF patients.