Curve Laterality for Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion in Adult Scoliosis Surgery: The Concave Versus Convex Controversy

Neurosurgery 83:1219–1225, 2018

Minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) is an effective adjunct in adult degenerative scoliosis (ADS) surgery. LLIF approaches performed fromthe concavity or convexity have inherent approach-related risks and benefits.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze LLIF approach-related complications and radiographic and clinical outcomes in patients with ADS.

METHODS: A multicenter retrospective review of a minimally invasive adult spinal deformity database was queried with a minimum of 2-yr follow-up. Patients were divided into 2 groups as determined by the side of the curve from which the LLIF was performed: concave or convex.

RESULTS: No differences between groups were noted in demographic, and preoperative or postoperative radiographic parameters (all P > .05). There were 8 total complications in the convex group (34.8%) and 21 complications in the concave group (52.5%; P = .17). A subgroup analysis was performed in 49 patients in whom L4-5 was in the primary curve and not in the fractional curve. In this subset of patients, there were 6 complications in the convex group (31.6%) compared to 19 in the concave group (63.3%; P < .05) and both groups experienced significant improvements in coronal Cobb angle, Oswestry Disability Index, and Visual Analog Scale score with no difference between groups.

CONCLUSION: Patients undergoing LLIF for ADS had no statistically significant clinical or operative complication rates regardless of a concave or convex approach to the curve. Clinical outcomes and coronal plane deformity improved regardless of approach side. However, in cases wherein L4-5 is in the primary curve, approaching the fractional curve at L4-5 from the concavity may be associated with a higher complication rate compared to a convex approach.