This paper reviews the current published data regarding open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) in relation to minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MI-TLIF). Introduction. MI-TLIF, a modern method for lumbar interbody arthrodesis, has allowed for a minimally invasive method to treat degenerative spinal pathologies. Currently, there is limited literature that compares TLIF directly to MI-TLIF. Thus, we seek to discuss the current literature on these techniques. Methods. Using a PubMed search, we reviewed recent publications of open and MI-TLIF, dating from 2002 to 2012. We discussed these studies and their findings in this paper, focusing on patient-reported outcomes as well as complications. Results. Data found in 14 articles of the literature was analyzed. Using these reports, we found mean follow-up was 20 months. The mean patient study size was 52. Seven of the articles directly compared outcomes of open TLIF with MI-TLIF, such as mean duration of surgery, length of post-operative stay, blood loss, and complications. Conclusion. Although high-class data comparing these two techniques is lacking, the current evidence supports MI-TLIF with outcomes comparable to that of the traditional, open technique. Further prospective, randomized studies will help to further our understanding of this minimally invasive technique.
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