ALIF and total disc replacement versus 2-level circumferential fusion with TLIF: a prospective, randomized, clinical and radiological trial

ALIF-TDR vs TLIF

Eur Spine J (2016) 25:1558–1566

Study design: Prospective, randomized trial.

Purpose: The treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD) with two-level fusion has been associated with a reasonable rate of complications. The aim of the present study was to compare (Hybrid) stand-alone anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) at L5/S1 with total disc replacement at L4/5 (TDR) as an alternative surgical strategy to (Fusion) 2-level circumferential fusion employing trans- foraminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) with transpedicular stabilization at L4–S1.

Methods: A total of 62 patients with symptomatic DDD of segments L5/S1 (Modic ≥2°) and L4/5 (Modic ≤2°; positive discography) were enrolled; 31 were treated with Hybrid and 31 with Fusion. Preoperatively, at 0, 12, and a mean follow-up of 37 months, clinical (ODI, VAS) and radiological evaluations (plain/extension-flexion radiographs evaluated for implant failure, fusion, global and segmental lordosis, and ROM) were performed.

Results: In 26 of 31 Hybrid and 24 of 31 Fusion patients available at the final follow-up, we found a significant clinical improvement compared to preoperatively. Hybrid patients had significantly lower VAS scores immediately postoperatively and at follow-up compared to Fusion patients. The complication rates were low and similar between the groups. Lumbar lordosis increased in both groups. The increase was mainly located at L4–S1 in the Hybrid group and at L1–L4 in the Fusion group. Hybrid patients presented with increased ROM at L4/5 and L3/4, and Fusion patients presented with increased ROM at L3/4, with significantly greater ROM at L3/4 compared to Hybrid patients at follow-up.

Conclusions Hybrid surgery is a viable surgical alternative for the presented indication. Approach-related inferior trauma and the balanced restoration of lumbar lordosis resulted in superior clinical outcomes compared to two-level circumferential fusion with TLIF.