Posterior Lumbar Interbody and Fusion (PLIF)
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) are two types of spinal fusion procedures that utilize a posterior (back area incision) approach to fuse (mend) the lumbar spine bones together (using an interbody fusion technique). Interbody fusion means the intervertebral disc is removed and replaced with a bone spacer (metal or plastic may also be used), in this case using a posterior approach. The posterior technique is often favored when one or two spinal levels are being fused in conjunction with a posterior decompression (laminectomy) and instrumentation (use of metal screws/rods). There are two different types of posterior interbody fusion procedures. The traditional PLIF procedure involves placing two small bone graft spacers, with gentle retraction of the spinal nerves and neurologic structures, one graft on each side of the interbody space (right and left). A newer technique, called a TLIF (transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion), involves placing only one bone graft spacer in the middle of the interbody space, without retraction of the spinal nerves.