Minimally invasive versus open lumbar spinal fusion: a matched study investigating patient-reported and surgical outcomes

J Neurosurg Spine 36:753–766, 2022

With the expanding indications for and increasing popularity of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for lumbar spinal fusion, large-scale outcomes analysis to compare MIS approaches with open procedures is warranted.

METHODS The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database for patients who underwent elective lumbar fusion for degenerative spine disease. They performed optimal matching, at a 1:2 ratio between patients who underwent MIS and those who underwent open lumbar fusion, to create two highly homogeneous groups in terms of 33 baseline variables (including demographic characteristics, comorbidities, symptoms, patient-reported scores, indications, and operative details). The outcomes of interest were overall satisfaction, decrease in Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and back and leg pain, as well as hospital length of stay (LOS), operative time, reoperations, and incidental durotomy rate. Satisfaction was defined as a score of 1 or 2 on the North American Spine Society scale. Minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in ODI was defined as ≥ 30% decrease from baseline. Outcomes were assessed at the 3- and 12-month follow-up evaluations.

RESULTS After the groups were matched, the MIS and open groups consisted of 1483 and 2966 patients, respectively. Patients who underwent MIS fusion had higher odds of satisfaction at 3 months (OR 1.4, p = 0.004); no difference was demonstrated at 12 months (OR 1.04, p = 0.67). Lumbar stenosis, single-level fusion, higher American Society of Anesthesiologists Physical Status Classification System grade, and absence of spondylolisthesis were most prominently associated with higher odds of satisfaction with MIS compared with open surgery. Patients in the MIS group had slightly lower ODI scores at 3 months (mean difference 1.61, p = 0.006; MCID OR 1.14, p = 0.0495) and 12 months (mean difference 2.35, p < 0.001; MCID OR 1.29, p < 0.001). MIS was also associated with a greater decrease in leg and back pain at both follow-up time points. The two groups did not differ in operative time and incidental durotomy rate; however, LOS was shorter for the MIS group. Revision surgery at 12 months was less likely for patients who underwent MIS (4.1% vs 5.6%, p = 0.032).

CONCLUSIONS In patients who underwent lumbar fusion for degenerative spinal disease, MIS was associated with higher odds of satisfaction at 3 months postoperatively. No difference was demonstrated at the 12-month follow-up. MIS maintained a small, yet consistent, superiority in decreasing ODI and back and leg pain, and MIS was associated with a lower reoperation rate.

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