Minimally Invasive TLIF

Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) is typically used to remove a degenerative disc and relieve pressure on nerve roots in the lumbar spine.

Using the minimally invasive procedure involves a small incision in the back. Using a portable X-ray machine, the surgeon locates the diseased vertebral levels. Making the smallest incision possible, the surgeon uses a combination of dilators and tubular retractors to access the vertebra and remove the degenerative disc. An implant with bone graft is placed in the empty space, this realigns the vertebral bones and relieves pressure on the nerve roots.

Advantages of the minimally invasive TLIF procedure over traditional spine surgery include smaller incision and less disruption to muscle tissue. This procedure is generally performed in an outpatient setting or 23 hour stay. Most patients can return to normal activity within 2-3 weeks following surgery.


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Scott B. Phillips, MD is a neurological surgeon based in San Antonio who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, artificial disc replacement, carpal tunnel surgery, spinal cord stimulator implants and other brain disorders, including brain tumor and chiari decompression. Patients travel from Bexar County, San Marcos and South Texas, including Corpus Christi, Kingsville, McAllen and Brownsville for treatment of back pain, neck pain, brain tumor, carpal tunnel and epilepsy-related neurological problems. Dr. Scott Phillips provides second opinions for back surgery and neck surgery, and emphasizes non-surgical treatment options in advance of spine surgery. Where surgery is necessary because of a herniated disc or spinal instability, Dr. Phillips uses minimally invasive spine surgery techniques and advanced technology like the artificial disc to help patients relieve pain symptoms and get back to activity. This spine neurosurgeon expertise enables many patients to have outpatient spine surgery and be home the same day.