Anterior-To-Psoas Approach Measurements, Feasibility, Non-Neurological Structures at Risk and Influencing Factors: A Bilateral Analysis From L1-L5 Using Computed Tomography Imaging

Operative Neurosurgery 25:52–58, 2023

Spinal fusion through the anterior-to-psoas (ATP) technique harbors several approach-related risks. We used abdominal computed tomography imaging to analyze the L1-L5 ATP fusion approach measurements, feasibility, degree of obstruction by non-neurological structures, and the influence of patient characteristics on ATP approach dimensions.

METHODS: The vascular window, psoas window, safe window, and incision line anterior and posterior margins for the ATP approach were measured on abdominal computed tomography imaging. The feasibility of approach and the presence of kidneys, ribs, liver, spleen, and iliac crests within the ATP approach were also measured. Correlation and regression models among radiographic measurements and patient age, height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) were analyzed as well as differences in approach measurements based on sex.

RESULTS: Safe window and incision line measurements were more accommodating for the left-sided vs right-sided ATP approach. At L4-5, the ATP approach was not feasible 18% of the time on the left side vs 60% of the time on the right side. The spleen was present 22%, 10%, and 3% of the time from L1-4, while the liver was present 56%, 30%, and 9% of the time. The iliac crests were not observed within ATP parameters. Patient age, height, weight, and BMI did not strongly correlate with approach measurements, although ATP dimensions did differ based on sex.

CONCLUSION: This study reports characteristics of the ATP approach including approach measurements, feasibility, non-neurological structures at risk, and influencing factors to approach measurements. While incision line measurements are larger for male patients compared with female patients at the lower lumbar levels, safe window sizes are similar across all levels L1-L5. The kidneys, ribs, spleen, and liver are potential at-risk structures during the ATP approach, although the iliac crests pose limited concern for ATP technique. Patient characteristics such as age, height, weight, and BMI do not markedly affect ATP approach considerations.