Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) versus posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) in lumbar spondylolisthesis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Suzanne L. de Kunder*, Sander M. J. van Kuijk, Kim Rijkers, Inge J. M. H. Caelers, Wouter L. W. van Hemert, Rob A. de Bie, Henk van Santbrink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review

83 Citations (Web of Science)


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) are both frequently used as a surgical treatment for lumbar spondylolisthesis. Because of the unilateral transforaminal route to the intervertebral space used in TLIF, as opposed to the bilateral route used in PLIF, TLIF could be associated with fewer complications, shorter duration of surgery, and less blood loss, whereas the effectiveness of both techniques on back or leg pain is equal.

PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of both TLIF and PLIF in reducing disability, and to compare the intra-and postoperative complications of both techniques in patients with lumbar spondylolisthesis.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: A systematic literature review and meta-analysis were carried out.

METHODS: We conducted a Medline (using PubMed), Embase (using Ovid), Cochrane Library, Current Controlled Trials, and NHS Centre for Review and Dissemination search for studies reporting TLIF, PLIF, lumbar spondylolisthesis and disability, pain, complications, duration of surgery, and estimated blood loss. A meta-analysis was performed to compute pooled estimates of the differences between TLIF and PLIF. Forest plots were constructed for each analysis group.

RESULTS: A total of 192 studies were identified; nine studies were included (one randomized controlled trial and eight case series), including 990 patients (450 TLIF and 540 PLIF). The pooled mean difference in postoperative Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores between TLIF and PLIF was -3.46 (95% confidence interval [CI] -4.72 to -2.20, p

CONCLUSIONS: TLIF has advantages over PLIF in the complication rate, blood loss, and operation duration. The clinical outcome is similar, with a slightly lower postoperative ODI score for TLIF. (C) 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1712-1721
Number of pages10
JournalThe Spine Journal
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


  • Complications
  • Disability
  • Lumbar spondylolisthesis
  • PLIF
  • Spinal fusion
  • TLIF

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