The impact of cage positioning on lumbar lordosis and disc space restoration following minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion

Neurosurg Focus 54(1):E7, 2023

OBJECTIVE The objective of this study was to evaluate patient and surgical factors that predict increased overall lumbar lordosis (LL) and segmental lordosis correction following a minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) procedure.

METHODS A retrospective review was conducted of all patients who underwent one- or two-level LLIF. Preoperative, initial postoperative, and 6-month postoperative measurements of LL, segmental lordosis, anterior disc height, and posterior disc height were collected from standing lateral radiographs for each patient. Cage placement was measured utilizing the center point ratio (CPR) on immediate postoperative radiographs. Spearman correlations were used to assess associations between cage lordosis and radiographic parameters. Multivariate linear regression was performed to assess independent predictors of outcomes.

RESULTS A total of 106 levels in 78 unique patients were included. Most procedures involved fusion of one level (n = 50, 64.1%), most commonly L3–4 (46.2%). Despite no differences in baseline segmental lordosis, patients with anteriorly or centrally placed cages experienced the greatest segmental lordosis correction immediately (mean anterior 4.81° and central 4.46° vs posterior 2.47°, p = 0.0315) and at 6 months postoperatively, and patients with anteriorly placed cages had greater overall lordosis correction postoperatively (mean 6.30°, p = 0.0338). At the 6-month follow-up, patients with anteriorly placed cages experienced the greatest increase in anterior disc height (mean anterior 6.24 mm vs posterior 3.69 mm, p = 0.0122). Cages placed more posteriorly increased the change in posterior disc height postoperatively (mean posterior 4.91 mm vs anterior 1.80 mm, p = 0.0001) and at 6 months (mean posterior 4.18 mm vs anterior 2.06 mm, p = 0.0255). There were no correlations between cage lordotic angle and outcomes. On multivariate regression, anterior cage placement predicted greater 6-month improvement in segmental lordosis, while posterior placement predicted greater 6-month improvement in posterior disc height. Percutaneous screw placement, cage lordotic angle, and cage height did not independently predict any radiographic outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS LLIF procedures reliably improve LL and increase intervertebral disc space. Anterior cage placement improves the lordosis angle greater than posterior placement, which better corrects sagittal alignment, but there is still a significant improvement in lordosis even with a posteriorly placed cage. Posterior cage placement provides greater restoration in posterior disc space height, maximizing indirect decompression, but even the anteriorly placed cages provided indirect decompression. Cage parameters including cage height, lordosis angle, and material do not impact radiographic improvement.