Lumbar Fusion Throws Surgeons a Learning CurveThere are many ways to fuse the lumbar spine with an operation. The transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is the one reported in this study. Surgeons at the University of Minnesota discuss how the TLIF was done in 49 patients. They used a minimally invasive approach. Details of the operation and its results are included.
The TLIF makes it possible to fuse the spine from the back of the body without disturbing the muscles or nerves. Minimally invasive means the operation is done without making a large cut to open the spine. The fusion goes all the way around the spine in a 360-degree
Patients were followed for 18 to 28 months. Pain levels, drug use, and function were all measured before and after the operation. Everyone got relief from back and leg pain present from before the operation. Most patients were able to return to their full activity level three months after the surgery.
The authors say early results of this operation are promising. It takes time for the surgeon to learn how to do the fusion this way. This is called a learning curve. The benefits to the patient are worth it. Less blood loss, shorter hospital stay, and less pain are just a few advantages. The patients in this study will be followed further to see the long-term results.
James D. Schwender, MD, et al. Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody
Fusion (TLIF): Technical Feasibility and Initial Results. In Journal of Spinal
Disorders. February 2005. Vol. 18. Supplement 1. Pp. S1-S6.
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