Although minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) has widely been developed in patients with lumbar diseases, surgeons risk exposure to fluoroscopic radiation. However, to date, there is no studies quantifying the effective dose during MIS-TLIF procedure, and the radiation dose distribution is still unclear. In this study, the surgeons' radiation doses at 5 places on the bodies were measured and the effective doses were assessed during 31 consecutive 1- to 3-level MIS-TLIF surgeries. The operating surgeon, assisting surgeon, and radiological technologist wore thermoluminescent dosimeter on the unshielded thyroid, chest, genitals, right middle finger, and on the chest beneath a lead apron. The doses at the lens and the effective doses were also calculated. Mean fluoroscopy times were 38.7, 53.1, and 58.5 seconds for 1, 2, or 3 fusion levels, respectively. The operating surgeon's mean exposures at the lens, thyroid, chest, genitals, finger, and the chest beneath the shield, respectively, were 0.07, 0.07, 0.09, 0.14, 0.32, and 0.05 mSv in 1-level MIS-TLIF; 0.07, 0.08, 0.09, 0.18, 0.34, and 0.05 mSv in 2-level; 0.08, 0.09, 0.14, 0.15, 0.36, and 0.06 mSv in 3-level; and 0.07, 0.08, 0.10, 0.15, 0.33, and 0.05 mSv in all cases. Mean dose at the operating surgeon's right finger was significantly higher than other measurements parts (P,0.001). The operating surgeon's effective doses (0.06, 0.06, and 0.07 mSv for 1, 2, and 3 fusion levels) were low, and didn't differ significantly from those of the assisting surgeon or radiological technologist. Revision MIS-TLIF was not associated with higher surgeons' radiation doses compared to primary MIS-TLIF. There were significantly higher surgeons' radiation doses in over-weight than in normal-weight patients. The surgeons' radiation exposure during MIS-TLIF was within the safe level by the International Commission on Radiological Protection's guidelines. The accumulated radiation exposure, especially to surgeon's hands, should be carefully monitored.
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