Subsidence after lateral lumbar interbody fusion using a 3D-printed porous titanium interbody cage

J Neurosurg Spine 37:663–669, 2022

Cage subsidence is a well-known phenomenon after lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), occurring in 10%–20% of cases. A 3D-printed porous titanium (pTi) cage has a stiffness that mimics the modulus of elasticity of native vertebrae, which reduces stress at the bone-hardware interface, lowering the risk of subsidence. In this study, the authors evaluated their institutional rate of subsidence and resultant reoperation in patients who underwent LLIF using a 3D-printed pTi interbody cage.

METHODS This is a retrospective case series of consecutive adult patients who underwent LLIF using pTi cages from 2018 to 2020. Demographic and clinical characteristics including age, sex, bone mineral density, smoking status, diabetes, steroid use, number of fusion levels, posterior instrumentation, and graft size were collected. The Marchi subsidence grade was determined at the time of last follow-up. Outcome measures of interest were subsidence and resultant reoperation. Univariable logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the extent to which clinical and operative characteristics were associated with Marchi grade I–III subsidence. Significance was assessed at p < 0.05.

RESULTS Fifty-five patients (38 with degenerative disc disease and 17 with adult spinal deformity) were treated with 97 pTi interbody cages with a mean follow-up of 18 months. The mean age was 63.6 ± 10.1 years, 60% of patients were female, and 36% of patients had osteopenia or osteoporosis. Patients most commonly underwent single-level LLIF (58.2%). Sixteen patients (29.1%) had posterior instrumentation. The subsidence grade distribution was as follows: 89 (92%) grade 0, 5 (5%) grade I, 2 (2%) grade II, and 1 (1%) grade III. No patients who were active or prior smokers and no patients with posterior instrumentation experienced graft subsidence. No clinical or operative characteristics were significantly associated with graft subsidence. One patient (1.8%) required reoperation because of subsidence.

CONCLUSIONS In this institutional case series, subsidence of pTi intervertebral cages after LLIF occurred in 8% of operated levels, 3% of which were grade II or III. Only 1 patient required reoperation. These reported rates are lower than those reported for polyetheretherketone implants. Further studies are necessary to compare the impact of these cage materials on subsidence after LLIF.