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Spinal Fusion

For some patients with spondylolisthesis, degenerative disc disease, or back pain associated with nerve root compression fusion surgery may be the treatment of choice. Fusion requires the healing of one bone to the next, in this case one vertebra to the next. Numerous techniques exist and fusion can be performed via the front of the spine or the back. When addressing this from the back this can be done via a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). The advantage of a TLIF is that it addresses fusion in the front of the spine as well as the back of the spine all with one procedure. It is performed through the foramen of the nerve root (nerve tunnel) which avoids working within the canal which may damage the nerve or create scar tissue around the nerves. Using the small tubular retraction system the disc is removed and an implant is placed between the vertebra to restore disc height and to provide a means for fusion (interbody fusion). Then screws and rods are placed with the use of x-ray through two very small stab incisions. Blood loss is usually small and one to two days in the hospital are all that is needed.