Anterolateral versus posterior minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion surgery for spondylolisthesis: comparison of outcomes from a global, multicenter study at 12-months follow-up

The Spine Journal 23 (2023) 1494−1505

Several minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion techniques may be used as a treatment for spondylolisthesis to alleviate back and leg pain, improve function and provide stability to the spine. Surgeons may choose an anterolateral or posterior approach for the surgery however, there remains a lack of real-world evidence from comparative, prospective studies on effectiveness and safety with relatively large, geographically diverse samples and involving multiple surgical approaches.

PURPOSE: To test the hypothesis that anterolateral and posterior minimally invasive approaches are equally effective in treating patients with spondylolisthesis affecting one or two segments at 3months follow-up and to report and compare patient reported outcomes and safety profiles between patients at 12-months post-surgery.

DESIGN: Prospective, multicenter, international, observational cohort study.

PATIENT SAMPLE: Patients with degenerative or isthmic spondylolisthesis who underwent 1- or 2-level minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Patient reported outcomes assessing disability (ODI), back pain (VAS), leg pain (VAS) and quality of life (EuroQol 5D-3L) at 4-weeks, 3-months and 12-months follow-up; adverse events up to 12-months; and fusion status at 12-months post-surgery using X-ray and/or CT-scan. The primary study outcome is improvement in ODI score at 3-months. METHODS: Eligible patients from 26 sites across Europe, Latin America and Asia were consecutively enrolled. Surgeons with experience in minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion procedures used, according to clinical judgement, either an anterolateral (ie, ALIF, DLIF, OLIF) or posterior (MIDLF, PLIF, TLIF) approach. Mean improvement in disability (ODI) was compared between groups using ANCOVA with baseline ODI score used as a covariate. Paired t-tests were used to examine change from baseline in PRO for both surgical approaches at each timepoint after surgery. A secondary ANCOVA using a propensity score as a covariate was used to test the robustness of conclusions drawn from the between group comparison.

RESULTS: Participants receiving an anterolateral approach (n=114) compared to those receiving a posterior approach (n=112) were younger (56.9 vs 62.0 years, p <.001), more likely to be employed (49.1% vs 25.0%, p<.001), have isthmic spondylolisthesis (38.6% vs 16.1%, p<.001) and less likely to only have central or lateral recess stenosis (44.9% vs 68.4%, p=.004). There were no statistically significant differences between the groups for gender, BMI, tobacco use, duration of conservative care, grade of spondylolisthesis, or the presence of stenosis. At 3-months follow-up there was no difference in the amount of improvement in ODI between the anterolateral and posterior groups (23.2 § 21.3 vs 25.8 § 19.5, p=.521). There were no clinically meaningful differences between the groups on mean improvement for back- and leg-pain, disability, or quality of life until the 12-months follow-up. Fusion rates of those assessed (n=158; 70% of the sample), were equivalent between groups (anterolateral, 72/88 [81.8%] fused vs posterior, 61/70 [87.1%] fused; p=.390).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with degenerative lumbar disease and spondylolisthesis who underwent minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion presented statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements from baseline up to 12-months follow-up. There were no clinically relevant differences between patients operated on using an anterolateral or posterior approach.

Comparison of minimally invasive decompression alone versus minimally invasive short-segment fusion in the setting of adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis:

J Neurosurg Spine 39:394–403, 2023

Patients with degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) and neurogenic pain may be candidates for decompression alone or short-segment fusion. In this study, minimally invasive surgery (MIS) decompression (MIS-D) and MIS short-segment fusion (MIS-SF) in patients with DLS were compared in a propensity score–matched analysis.

METHODS The propensity score was calculated using 13 variables: sex, age, BMI, Charlson Comorbidity Index, smoking status, leg pain, back pain, grade 1 spondylolisthesis, lateral spondylolisthesis, multilevel spondylolisthesis, lumbar Cobb angle, pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis, and pelvic tilt in a logistic regression model. One-to-one matching was performed to compare perioperative morbidity and patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs). The minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for patients was calculated based on cutoffs of percentage change from baseline: 42.4% for Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 25.0% for visual analog scale (VAS) low-back pain, and 55.6% for VAS leg pain.

RESULTS A total of 113 patients were included in the propensity score calculation, resulting in 31 matched pairs. Perioperative morbidity was significantly reduced for the MIS-D group, including shorter operative duration (91 vs 204 minutes, p < 0.0001), decreased blood loss (22 vs 116 mL, p = 0.0005), and reduced length of stay (2.6 vs 5.1 days, p = 0.0004). Discharge status (home vs rehabilitation), complications, and reoperation rates were similar. Preoperative PROMs were similar, but after 3 months, improvement was significantly higher for the MIS-SF group in the VAS back pain score (−3.4 vs −1.2, p = 0.044) and Veterans RAND 12-Item Health Survey (VR-12) Mental Component Summary (MCS) score (+10.3 vs +1.9, p = 0.009), and after 1 year the MIS-SF group continued to have significantly greater improvement in the VAS back pain score (−3.9 vs −1.2, p = 0.026), ODI score (−23.1 vs −7.4, p = 0.037), 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey MCS score (+6.5 vs −6.5, p = 0.0374), and VR-12 MCS score (+7.6 vs −5.1, p = 0.047). MCID did not differ significantly between the matched groups for VAS back pain, VAS leg pain, or ODI scores (p = 0.38, 0.055, and 0.072, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS Patients with DLS undergoing surgery had similar rates of significant improvement after both MIS-D and MIS-SF. For matched patients, tradeoffs were seen for reduced perioperative morbidity for MIS-D versus greater magnitudes of improvement in back pain, disability, and mental health for patients 1 year after MIS-SF. However, rates of MCID were similar, and the small sample size among the matched patients may be subject to patient outliers, limiting generalizability of these results.

Long-Term Durability of Stand-Alone Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Neurosurgery 93:60–65, 2023

BACKGROUND: The long-term durability of stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) remains unknown.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate whether early patient-reported outcome measures after stand-alone LLIF are sustained on long-term follow-up.

METHODS: One hundred and twenty-six patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF between 2009 and 2017 were included in this study. Patient-reported outcome measures included the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EuroQOL-5D (EQ-5D), and visual analog score (VAS) scores. Durable outcomes were defined as scores showing a significant improvement between preoperative and 6-week scores without demonstrating any significant decline at future time points. A repeated measures analysis was conducted using generalized estimating equations (model) to assess the outcome across different postoperative time points, including 6 weeks, 1 year, 2 years, and 5 years.

RESULTS: ODI scores showed durable improvement at 5-year follow-up, with scores improving from 46.9 to 38.5 (P = .001). Improvements in EQ-5D showed similar durability up to 5 years, improving from 0.48 to 0.65 (P = .03). VAS scores also demonstrated significant improvements postoperatively that were durable at 2-year follow-up, improving from 7.0 to 4.6 (P < .0001).

CONCLUSION: Patients undergoing stand-alone LLIF were found to have significant improvements in ODI and EQ-5D at 6week follow-up that remained durable up to 5 years postoperatively. VAS scores were found to be significantly improved at 6 weeks and up to 2 years postoperatively but failed to reach significance at 5 years. These findings demonstrate that patients undergoing stand-alone LLIF show significant improvement in overall disability after surgery that remains durable at long-term follow-up.

Technique for Validation of Intraoperative Navigation in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Operative Neurosurgery 24:451–454, 2023

Intraoperative 3-dimensional navigation is an enabling technology that has quickly become a commonplace in minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). It provides a useful adjunct for percutaneous pedicle screw fixation. Although navigation is associated with many benefits, including improvement in overall screw accuracy, navigation errors can lead to misplaced instrumentation and potential complications or revision surgery. It is difficult to confirm navigation accuracy without a distant reference point.

OBJECTIVE: To describe a simple technique for validating navigation accuracy in the operating room during MISS.

METHODS: The operating room is set up in a standard fashion for MISS with intraoperative cross-sectional imaging available. A 16-gauge needle is placed within the bone of the spinous process before intraoperative cross-sectional imaging. The entry level is chosen such that the space between the reference array and the needle encompasses the surgical construct. Before placing each pedicle screw, accuracy is verified by placing the navigation probe over the needle.

RESULTS: This technique has identified navigation inaccuracy and led to repeat crosssectional imaging. No screws have been misplaced in the senior author’s cases since adopting this technique, and there have been no complications attributable to the technique.

CONCLUSION: Navigation inaccuracy is an inherent risk in MISS, but the described technique may mitigate this risk by providing a stable reference point.

How dimensions can guide surgical planning and training: a systematic review of Kambin’s triangle

Neurosurg Focus 54(1):E6, 2023

OBJECTIVE The authors sought to analyze the current literature to determine dimensional trends across the lumbar levels of Kambin’s triangle, clarify the role of imaging techniques for preoperative planning, and understand the effect of inclusion of the superior articular process (SAP). This compiled knowledge of the triangle is needed to perform successful procedures, reduce nerve root injuries, and help guide surgeons in training.

METHODS The authors performed a search of multiple databases using combinations of keywords: Kambin’s triangle, size, measurement, safe triangle, and bony triangle. Articles were included if their main findings included measurement of Kambin’s triangle. The PubMed, Scopus, Ovid, Cochrane, Embase, and Medline databases were systematically searched for English-language articles with no time frame restrictions through July 2022.

RESULTS Eight studies comprising 132 patients or cadavers were included in the study. The mean ± SD age was 66.69 ± 9.6 years, and 53% of patients were male. Overall, the size of Kambin’s triangle increased in area moving down vertebral levels, with L5–S1 being the largest (133.59 ± 4.36 mm 2 ). This trend followed a linear regression model when SAP was kept (p = 0.008) and removed (p = 0.003). There was also a considerable increase in the size of Kambin’s triangle if the SAP was removed.

CONCLUSIONS Here, the authors have provided the first reported systematic review of the literature of Kambin’s triangle, its measurements at each lumbar level, and key areas of debate related to the definition of the working safe zone. These findings indicate that CT is heavily utilized for imaging of the safe zone, the area of Kambin’s triangle tends to increase caudally, and variation exists between patients. Future studies should focus on using advanced imaging techniques for preoperative planning and establishing guidelines for surgeons.

Radiographic and MRI evidence of indirect neural decompression after the anterior column realignment procedure for adult spinal deformity

J Neurosurg Spine 37:703–712, 2022

The anterior column realignment (ACR) procedure, which consists of sectioning the anterior longitudinal ligament/annulus and placing a hyperlordotic interbody cage, has emerged as a minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for achieving aggressive segmental lordosis enhancement to address adult spinal deformity (ASD). Although accumulated evidence has revealed indirect neural decompression after lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), whether ACR serves equally well for neural decompression remains to be proven. The current study intended to clarify this ambiguous issue.

METHODS A series of 36 ASD patients with spinopelvic mismatch, defined as pelvic incidence (PI) minus lumbar lordosis (LL) > 10°, underwent a combination of ACR, LLIF, and percutaneous pedicle screw (PPS) fixation. This “MIS triad” procedure was applied over short segments with mean fusion length of 3.3 levels, and most patients underwent single-level ACR. The authors analyzed full-length standing radiographs, CT and MRI scans, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores in patients with minimum 1 year of follow-up (mean [range] 20.3 [12–39] months).

RESULTS Compared with the preoperative values, the radiographic and MRI measurements of the latest postoperative studies changed as follows. Segmental disc angle more than quadrupled at the ACR level and LL nearly doubled. MRI examinations at the ACR level revealed a significant (p < 0.0001) increase in the area of the dural sac that was accompanied by significant (p < 0.0001) decreases in area and thickness of the ligamentum flavum and in thickness of the disc bulge. The corresponding CT scans demonstrated significant (all p < 0.0001) increases in disc height to 280% of the preoperative value at the anterior edge, 224% at the middle edge, and 209% at the posterior edge, as well as in pedicleto-pedicle distance to 122%. Mean ODI significantly (p < 0.0001) decreased from 46.3 to 26.0.

CONCLUSIONS The CT-based data showing vertebral column lengthening across the entire ACR segment with an increasingly greater degree anteriorly suggest that the corrective action of ACR relies on a lever mechanism, with the intact facet joints acting as the fulcrum. Whole-segment spine lengthening at the ACR level reduced the disc bulge anteriorly and the ligamentum flavum posteriorly, with eventual enlargement of the dural sac. ACR plays an important role in not only LL restoration but also stenotic spinal canal enlargement for ASD surgery.

Lateral versus prone robot-assisted percutaneous pedicle screw placement: a CT-based comparative assessment of accuracy

J Neurosurg Spine 37:112–120, 2022

Single-position lateral lumbar interbody fusion (SP-LLIF) has recently gained significant popularity due to increased operative efficiency, but it remains technically challenging. Robot-assisted percutaneous pedicle screw (RAPPS) placement can facilitate screw placement in the lateral position. The authors have reported their initial experience with SP-LLIF with RA-PPS placement in the lateral position, and they have compared this accuracy with that of RA-PPS placement in the prone position.

METHODS The authors reviewed prospectively collected data from their first 100 lateral-position RA-PPSs. The authors graded screw accuracy on CT and compared it to the accuracy of all prone-position RA-PPS procedures during the same time period. The authors analyzed the effect of several demographic and perioperative metrics, as a whole and specifically for lateral-position RA-PPS placement.

RESULTS The authors placed 99 lateral-position RA-PPSs by using the ExcelsiusGPS robotic platform in the first 18 consecutive patients who underwent SP-LLIF with postoperative CT imaging; these patients were compared with 346 prone-position RA-PPSs that were placed in the first consecutive 64 patients during the same time period. All screws were placed at L1 to S1. Overall, the lateral group had 14 breaches (14.1%) and the prone group had 25 breaches (7.2%) (p = 0.032). The lateral group had 5 breaches (5.1%) greater than 2 mm (grade C or worse), and the prone group had 4 (1.2%) (p = 0.015). The operative level had an effect on the breach rate, with breach rates (grade C or worse) of 7.1% at L3 and 2.8% at L4. Most breaches were grade B (< 2 mm) and lateral, and no breach had clinical sequelae or required revision. Within the lateral group, multivariate regression analysis demonstrated that BMI and number of levels affected accuracy, but the side that was positioned up or down did not.

CONCLUSIONS RA-PPSs can improve the feasibility of SP-LLIF. Spine surgeons should be cautious and selective with this technique owing to decreased accuracy in the lateral position, particularly in obese patients. Further studies should compare SP-LLIF techniques performed while the patient is in the prone and lateral positions.

Surgical anatomy of minimally invasive lateral approaches to the thoracolumbar junction

J Neurosurg Spine 36:937–944, 2022

The thoracolumbar (TL) junction spanning T11 to L2 is difficult to access because of the convergence of multiple anatomical structures and tissue planes. Earlier studies have described different approaches and anatomical
structures relevant to the TL junction. This anatomical study aims to build a conceptual framework for selecting and executing a minimally invasive lateral approach to the spine for interbody fusion at any level of the TL junction with appropriate adjustments for local anatomical variations.

METHODS The authors reviewed anatomical dissections from 9 fresh-frozen cadaveric specimens as well as clinical case examples to denote key anatomical relationships and considerations for approach selection.

RESULTS The retroperitoneal and retropleural spaces reside within the same extracoelomic cavity and are separated from each other by the lateral attachments of the diaphragm to the rib and the L1 transverse process. If the lateral diaphragmatic attachments are dissected and the diaphragm is retracted anteriorly, the retroperitoneal and retropleural spaces will be in direct continuity, allowing full access to the TL junction. The T12–L2 disc spaces can be reached by a conventional lateral retroperitoneal exposure with the rostral displacement of the 11th and 12th ribs. With caudally
displaced ribs, or to expose T12–L1 disc spaces, the diaphragm can be freed from its lateral attachments to perform a retrodiaphragmatic approach. The T11–12 disc space can be accessed purely through a retropleural approach without significant mobilization of the diaphragm.

CONCLUSIONS The entirety of the TL junction can be accessed through a minimally invasive extracoelomic approach, with or without manipulation of the diaphragm. Approach selection is determined by the region of interest, degree of diaphragmatic mobilization required, and rib anatomy.

Outcomes and complications of minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion in the elderly: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Neurosurg Spine 36:741–752, 2022

Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) may be used to treat degenerative spinal pathologies while reducing risks associated with open procedures. As an increasing number of lumbar fusions are performed in the aging United States population, MIS-TLIF has been widely adopted into clinical practice in recent years. However, its complication rate and functional outcomes in elderly patients remain poorly characterized. The objective of this study was to assess complication rates and functional outcomes in elderly patients (≥ 65 years old) undergoing MIS-TLIF.

METHODS The PubMed, Embase, and Scopus databases were searched for relevant records in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. Inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed original research; English language; full text available; use of MIS-TLIF; and an elderly cohort of at least 5 patients. Risk of bias was assessed using the ROBINS-I (Risk of Bias in Nonrandomized Studies—of Interventions) tool. Pooled complication rates were calculated for elderly patients, with subgroup analyses performed for single versus multiple-level fusions. Complication rates in elderly compared to nonelderly patients were also assessed. Postoperative changes in patient-reported outcomes, including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and visual analog scale (VAS) back pain (BP) and leg pain (LP) scores, were calculated.

RESULTS Twelve studies were included in the final analysis. Compared to nonelderly patients, MIS-TLIF in elderly patients resulted in significantly higher rates of major (OR 2.15, 95% CI 1.07–4.34) and minor (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.22–3.95) complications. The pooled major complication rate in elderly patients was 0.05 (95% CI 0.03–0.08) and the pooled minor complication rate was 0.20 (95% CI 0.13–0.30). Single-level MIS-TLIF had lower major and minor complication rates than multilevel MIS-TLIF, although not reaching significance. At a minimum follow-up of 6 months, the postoperative change in ODI (−30.70, 95% CI −41.84 to −19.55), VAS-BP (−3.87, 95% CI −4.97 to −2.77), and VAS-LP (−5.11, 95% CI −6.69 to −3.53) in elderly patients all exceeded the respective minimum clinically important difference. The pooled rate of fusion was 0.86 (95% CI 0.80–0.90).

CONCLUSIONS MIS-TLIF in elderly patients results in a high rate of fusion and significant improvement of patientreported outcomes, but has significantly higher complication rates than in nonelderly patients. Limitations of this study include heterogeneity in the definition of elderly and limited reporting of risk factors among included studies. Further study of the impact of complications and the factors predisposing elderly patients to poor outcomes is needed.

A cadaveric precision and accuracy analysis of augmented reality–mediated percutaneous pedicle implant insertion

J Neurosurg Spine 34:316–324, 2021

Augmented reality–mediated spine surgery (ARMSS) is a minimally invasive novel technology that has the potential to increase the efficiency, accuracy, and safety of conventional percutaneous pedicle screw insertion methods. Visual 3D spinal anatomical and 2D navigation images are directly projected onto the operator’s retina and superimposed over the surgical field, eliminating field of vision and attention shift to a remote display. The objective of this cadaveric study was to assess the accuracy and precision of percutaneous ARMSS pedicle implant insertion.

METHODS Instrumentation was placed in 5 cadaveric torsos via ARMSS with the xvision augmented reality headmounted display (AR-HMD) platform at levels ranging from T5 to S1 for a total of 113 total implants (93 pedicle screws and 20 Jamshidi needles). Postprocedural CT scans were graded by two independent neuroradiologists using the Gertzbein- Robbins scale (grades A–E) for clinical accuracy. Technical precision was calculated using superimposition analysis employing the Medical Image Interaction Toolkit to yield angular trajectory (°) and linear screw tip (mm) deviation from the virtual pedicle screw position compared with the actual pedicle screw position on postprocedural CT imaging.

RESULTS The overall implant insertion clinical accuracy achieved was 99.1%. Lumbosacral and thoracic clinical accuracies were 100% and 98.2%, respectively. Specifically, among all implants inserted, 112 were noted to be Gertzbein- Robbins grade A or B (99.12%), with only 1 medial Gertzbein-Robbins grade C breach (> 2-mm pedicle breach) in a thoracic pedicle at T9. Precision analysis of the inserted pedicle screws yielded a mean screw tip linear deviation of 1.98 mm (99% CI 1.74–2.22 mm) and a mean angular error of 1.29° (99% CI 1.11°–1.46°) from the projected trajectory. These data compare favorably with data from existing navigation platforms and regulatory precision requirements mandating that linear and angular deviation be less than 3 mm (p < 0.01) and 3° (p < 0.01), respectively.

CONCLUSIONS Percutaneous ARMSS pedicle implant insertion is a technically feasible, accurate, and highly precise method.


Percutaneous Transforaminal Endoscopic Discectomy Versus Microendoscopic Discectomy for Lumbar Disc Herniation

SPINE Volume 45, Number 8, pp 493–503

Study Design. A prospective randomized controlled study.

Objective. To clarify whether percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy (PTED) has better clinical outcomes and less surgical trauma compared with microendoscopic discectomy (MED).

Summary of Background Data. Two kinds of minimally invasive spine surgeries, PTED and MED, are now widely used for the treatment of lumbar disc herniation (LDH). It is still a controversial issue to choose the proper surgical approach.

Methods. In this single-center, open-label, randomized controlled trial, patients were included if they had persistent signs and symptoms of radiculopathy with corresponding imagingconfirmed LDH, and were randomly allocated to PTED or MED group. The primary outcome was the score of Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the secondary outcomes included the score of Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey bodily pain and physical function scales, European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions, and Visual Analogue Scales for back pain and leg pain.

Results. A total of 250 participants were randomly assigned to two treatment groups, 241 of that received the specific surgical procedure. Two hundred twenty-two patients (92.1%) have completed the 2-year follow-up. Both the primary and secondary outcomes did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups at each prespecified follow-up time (P>0.05). For PTED, the postoperative improvement of ODI score in the median herniation subgroup was less compared with paramedian subgroup. For MED, less improvement of ODI score was found in far-lateral herniation subgroup compared with paramedian subgroup. Total complication rate over the course of 2 year was 13.44% in PTED group and 15.57% in MED group (P¼0.639). Ten cases (8.40%) in PTED group and five cases (4.10%) in MED group suffered from residue/recurrence of herniation, for which reoperation was required.

Conclusion. Over the 2-year follow-up period, PTED did not show superior clinical outcomes and did not appear to be safer procedure for patients with LDH compared with MED. PTED had inferior results for median disc herniation, whereas MED did not appear to be the best option for far-lateral disc herniation.

Level of Evidence: 2

Midline lumbar interbody fusion (MIDLIF) with cortical screws

Acta Neurochirurgica (2019) 161:2415–2420

A variety of surgical techniques can be used to achieve lumbar spinal fusion for management of degenerative conditions. Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) is the most popular technique; however, midline lumbar interbody fusion (MIDLIF) is a valid alternative to the more traditional pedicle screw trajectory with potential advantages. The aim of this study is to evaluate the clinical outcomes from a cohort of patients submitted to MIDLIF in a single hospital during the surgical team’s initial learning period.

Methods The first 30 consecutive patients who underwent single- or two-level MIDLIF surgery for lumbar degenerative disease were included in this retrospective study. Patients’ demographics, surgical data, length of hospitalisation, and perioperative complications were analysed. Preoperative and postoperative radiographic parameters were obtained. Validated questionnaires, Core Outcome Measure Index for the back, Euro-QoL 5-Dimensional Questionnaire, and Oswestry Disability Index, were used for clinical assessment.

Results Mean surgery time was 278.53 ± 82.16 min and mean hospitalisation time was 6.17 ± 3.51 days. Six patients experienced complications, four of which being dural tears with no consequences, and two required reoperations during the mean follow-up of 25.23 ± 9.74 months. Preoperative and postoperative radiological parameters did not demonstrate significant differences. All clinical parameters significantly improved after surgery (p < 0.001). A complexity score was developed to more accurately compare the different procedures, and it strongly correlated with surgery duration (r = 0.719, p < 0.001). Furthermore, a moderate correlation was found between a developed Duration Index and the patient’s order number (r = − 0.539, p = 0.002).

Conclusions In our initial experience, MIDLIF showed to be effective in significantly improving the patients’ functional status, pain scores, and quality of life. The technique seems safe, with an acceptably low complication rate. Hence, MIDLIF can be considered as a promising alternative to more traditional TLIF and PLIF techniques even at the beginning of the learning curve.

Percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy compared with microendoscopic discectomy for lumbar disc herniation

J Neurosurg Spine 28:300–310, 2018

A prospective randomized controlled study was conducted to clarify whether percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy (PTED) results in better clinical outcomes and less surgical trauma than microendoscopic discectomy (MED).

METHODS In this single-center, open-label, randomized controlled trial, patients were included if they had persistent signs and symptoms of radiculopathy with corresponding imaging-confirmed lumbar disc herniation. Patients were randomly allocated to the PTED or the MED group by computer-generated randomization codes. The primary outcome was the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score 1 year after surgery. Secondary outcomes included scores of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey bodily pain and physical function scales, EuroQol Group’s EQ-5D , and the visual analog scales for back pain and leg pain. Data including duration of operation, in-bed time, length of hospital stay, surgical cost and total hospital cost, complications, and reoperations were recorded.

RESULTS A total of 153 participants were randomly assigned to 2 treatment groups (PTED vs MED), and 89.5% (137 patients) completed 1 year of follow-up. Primary and secondary outcomes did not differ significantly between the treatment groups at each prespecified follow-up point (p > 0.05). For PTED, there was less postoperative improvement in ODI score in the median herniation subgroup at 1 week (p = 0.027), 3 months (p = 0.013), 6 months (p = 0.027), and 1 year (p = 0.028) compared with the paramedian subgroup. For MED, there was significantly less improvement in ODI score at 3 months (p = 0.008), 6 months (p = 0.028), and 1 year (p = 0.028) in the far-lateral herniation subgroup compared with the paramedian subgroup. The total complication rate over the course of 1 year was 13.75% in the PTED group and 16.44% in the MED group (p = 0.642). Five patients (6.25%) in the PTED group and 3 patients (4.11%) in the MED group suffered from residue/recurrence of herniation, for which reoperation was required.

CONCLUSIONS Over the 1-year follow-up period, PTED did not show superior clinical outcomes and did not seem to be a safer procedure for patients with lumbar disc herniation compared with MED. PTED had inferior results for median disc herniation, whereas MED did not seem to be the best treatment option for far-lateral disc herniation. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01997086 (

Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Using Banana-Shaped and Straight Cages: Radiological and Clinical Results from a Prospective Randomized Clinical Trial

Neurosurgery 82:289–298, 2018

In minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF), cage type and position play important roles in fusion achievement and sagittal alignment correction. However, no prospective randomized comparison of the results using different types of cage has been reported to date.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the radiological and clinical outcomes of unilateral MIS-TLIF using 2 types of cage.

METHODS: All candidates for single-level MIS-TLIF were randomized into banana-shaped cage and straight-cage groups. Plain radiographs and computed tomography scans were used for assessment of cage positions, fusion status, disc height, segmental lordotic angle, cage subsidence, and pelvic parameters. Clinical outcome was assessed using visual analog scale and Oswestry Disability Index scores.

RESULTS: Forty-four and 40 consecutive patients were operated on using banana-shaped and straight cages, respectively. Cage position was more anterior and lateral in the straightcage group and more medial and posterior in the banana-shaped cage group. Solid fusion was achieved in 95.2% and 96.6% of the 2 groups, respectively, at 12 mo. The change in disc height and segmental lordotic angle postoperatively was significantly greater in the banana-shaped cage group. The incidence of subsidence during follow-up was significantly higher in the banana-shaped cage group (P<.04). Clinically, the visual analog scale and Oswestry Disability Index scores decreased significantly after surgery in both groups, with no significant difference between the groups.

CONCLUSION: Our preliminary outcomes suggest that the subsidence rate may be higher using banana-shaped cages in MIS-TLIF, possibly due to their more medial final position.


Does MIS Surgery Allow for Shorter Constructs in the Surgical Treatment of Adult Spinal Deformity?

Neurosurgery 80:489–497, 2017

The length of construct can potentially influence perioperative risks in adult spinal deformity (ASD) surgery. A head-to-head comparison between open and minimally invasive surgery (MIS) techniques for treatment of ASD has yet to be performed.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact of MIS approaches on construct length and clinical outcomes in comparison to traditional open approaches when treating similar ASD profiles.

METHODS: Two multicenter databases for ASD, 1 involving MIS procedures and the other open procedures, were propensity matched for clinical and radiographic parameters in this observational study. Inclusion criteria were ASD and minimum 2-year follow-up. Independent t-test and chi-square test were used to evaluate and compare outcomes.

RESULTS: A total of 1215 patients were identified, with 84 patients matched in each group. Statistical significance was found for mean levels fused (4.8 for circumferential MIS [cMIS] and 10.1 for open), mean interbody fusion levels (3.6 cMIS and 2.4 open), blood loss (estimated blood loss 488 mL cMIS and 1762 mL open), and hospital length of stay (6.7 days cMIS and 9.7 days open). There was no significant difference in preoperative radiographic parameters or postoperative clinical outcomes (Owestry Disability Index and visual analog scale) between groups. There was a significant difference in postoperative lumbar lordosis (43.3◦ cMIS and 49.8◦ open) and pelvic incidence-lumbar lordosis correction (10.6◦ cMIS and 5.2◦ open) in the open group. There was no significant difference in reoperation rate between the 2 groups.

CONCLUSION: MIS techniques for ASD may reduce construct length, reoperation rates, blood loss, and length of stay without affecting clinical and radiographic outcomes when compared to a similar group of patients treated with open techniques.

Lateral retroperitoneal approach for discitis and osteomyelitis

Direct lateral retroperitoneal approach for the surgical treatment of lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis

Neurosurg Focus 37 (2):E5, 2014

The medical management of discitis and osteomyelitis with long-term antibiotic therapy and bracing usually results in eradicated infection. Surgical management is appropriate when medical management fails and in some cases with pyogenic deformity or neurological deficit. The success of surgery depends on adequate debridement of the necrotic infected disc and vertebral body, along with anterior column reconstruction and vertebral stabilization. Debridement is typically performed via an anterior retroperitoneal approach, which can necessitate mobilization of the great vessels for proper exposure. Mobilization can be technically difficult and lead to vascular injury. The purpose of this study was to evaluate an alternative technique for the surgical treatment of lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis using a direct lateral retroperitoneal approach, which allows for thorough debridement and anterior column reconstruction while avoiding the need to mobilize the great vessels.

Methods. A retrospective chart analysis was performed for all patients who had presented with lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis and had undergone surgical management via the direct lateral retroperitoneal approach in the period from 2006 to 2013. Collected data included surgical blood loss, perioperative complications (wound infection, vascular injury, approach-related complications, and neurological injury), need for secondary procedures, microbiological and laboratory results, and efficacy of infection eradication. Imaging studies were reviewed as well.

Results. Ten patients, 7 male and 3 female, underwent this procedure at the authors’ institution in the defined period. Average blood loss was 272 ml (range 150–800 ml, with 800 ml in the only 2-level case). There were no vascular injuries. Average follow-up was 680 days, although 4 patients did not complete the follow-up beyond 6 months. Eight patients underwent immediate posterior pedicle screw instrumentation. Two patients did not undergo posterior instrumentation, and one of these developed a kyphotic deformity that required a secondary posterior procedure. Infection was eradicated in all patients according to a history, physical examination, imaging studies, and laboratory parameters (complete blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein). One patient developed a painful neuroma at the iliac crest harvest site, and one patient had a retroperitoneal hematoma. Otherwise, there were no approach-related neurological injuries or complications. Neither was there any postoperative surgical site infection.

Conclusions. The direct lateral approach for the surgical treatment of lumbar discitis and osteomyelitis allows for thorough debridement and spinal reconstruction without the need to mobilize the great vessels. This technique effectively eradicated infection in all cases, with reasonable blood loss and no vascular injuries. This approach should be considered as an alternative to the open anterior approach. The authors recommend posterior instrumentation to prevent the development of kyphosis.

Minimally invasive spine surgery for adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis

Minimally invasive spine surgery for adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis

Neurosurg Focus 36 (5):E7, 2014

Historically, adult degenerative lumbar scoliosis (DLS) has been treated with multilevel decompression and instrumented fusion to reduce neural compression and stabilize the spinal column. However, due to the profound morbidity associated with complex multilevel surgery, particularly in elderly patients and those with multiple medical comorbidities, minimally invasive surgical approaches have been proposed. The goal of this meta-analysis was to review the differences in patient selection for minimally invasive surgical versus open surgical procedures for adult DLS, and to compare the postoperative outcomes following minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and open surgery.

Methods. In this meta-analysis the authors analyzed the complication rates and the clinical outcomes for patients with adult DLS undergoing complex decompressive procedures with fusion versus minimally invasive surgical approaches. Minimally invasive surgical approaches included decompressive laminectomy, microscopic decompression, lateral and extreme lateral interbody fusion (XLIF), and percutaneous pedicle screw placement for fusion. Mean patient age, complication rates, reoperation rates, Cobb angle, and measures of sagittal balance were investigated and compared between groups.

Results. Twelve studies were identified for comparison in the MIS group, with 8 studies describing the lateral interbody fusion or XLIF and 4 studies describing decompression without fusion. In the decompression MIS group, the mean preoperative Cobb angle was 16.7° and mean postoperative Cobb angle was 18°. In the XLIF group, mean pre- and postoperative Cobb angles were 22.3° and 9.2°, respectively. The difference in postoperative Cobb angle was statistically significant between groups on 1-way ANOVA (p = 0.014). Mean preoperative Cobb angle, mean patient age, and complication rate did not differ between the XLIF and decompression groups. Thirty-five studies were identified for inclusion in the open surgery group, with 18 studies describing patients with open fusion without osteotomy and 17 papers detailing outcomes after open fusion with osteotomy. Mean preoperative curve in the open fusion without osteotomy and with osteotomy groups was 41.3° and 32°, respectively. Mean reoperation rate was significantly higher in the osteotomy group (p = 0.008). On 1-way ANOVA comparing all groups, there was a statistically significant difference in mean age (p = 0.004) and mean preoperative curve (p = 0.002). There was no statistically significant difference in complication rates between groups (p = 0.28).

Conclusions. The results of this study suggest that surgeons are offering patients open surgery or MIS depending on their age and the severity of their deformity. Greater sagittal and coronal correction was noted in the XLIF versus decompression only MIS groups. Larger Cobb angles, greater sagittal imbalance, and higher reoperation rates were found in studies reporting the use of open fusion with osteotomy. Although complication rates did not significantly differ between groups, these data are difficult to interpret given the heterogeneity in reporting complications between studies.

Long-term follow-up of standard microdiscectomy versus minimal access surgery for lumbar disc herniations

Long-term follow-up of standard microdiscectomy versus minimal access surgery for lumbar disc herniations

Acta Neurochir (2013) 155:2333–2338

Surgery of lumbar disc herniations is one of the most common neurosurgical procedures. New surgical approaches and techniques are constantly evolving. We present our long-term follow-up results comparing standard open microdiscectomy (SOMD) andminimal access microdiscectomy (MAMD) for single-level lumbar disc herniations.

Methods Patients were randomized in two groups receiving eitherMAMDor SOMD. Physical and mental health and pain relief were assessed (ODI, SF-36 questionnaire, VAS leg and back pain). In addition, all patients received MR imaging for morphological evaluation of postoperative peridural scar tissue formation.

Results Of the 60 initial patients (SOMD: 30 pts, MAMD: 30 pts), 38 were available for long-term follow-up. Mean follow-up time was 33 months. Long-term follow-up revealed significant postoperative pain relief in both groups. Good to excellent results concerning physical and mental health and pain relief were achieved in both groups. Significantly less peridural scar tissue formation was observed in the MAMD patients, but without clinical impact.

Conclusion MAMD is a feasible alternative to the standard open approach. Both groups show significant and long-lasting pain relief and good to excellent results regarding healthrelated quality of life. Congruent to our short-term results, we observed slightly but not statistically significant better clinical results in the MAMD group when compared to the SOMD group.

Neuronavigation in minimally invasive spine surgery

Neuronavigation in minimally invasive spine surgery

Neurosurg Focus 35 (2):E12, 2013

Parallel advancements in image guidance technology and minimal access techniques continue to push the frontiers of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS). While traditional intraoperative imaging remains widely used, newer platforms, such as 3D-fluoroscopy, cone-beam CT, and intraoperative CT/MRI, have enabled safer, more accurate instrumentation placement with less radiation exposure to the surgeon. The goal of this work is to provide a review of the current uses of advanced image guidance in MISS.

Methods. The authors searched PubMed for relevant articles concerning MISS, with particular attention to the use of image-guidance platforms. Pertinent studies published in English were further compiled and characterized into relevant analyses of MISS of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral regions.

Results. Fifty-two studies were included for review. These describe the use of the iso-C system for 3D navigation during C1–2 transarticular screw placement, the use of endoscopic techniques in the cervical spine, and the role of navigation guidance at the occipital-cervical junction. The authors discuss the evolving literature concerning neuronavigation during pedicle screw placement in the thoracic and lumbar spine in the setting of infection, trauma, and deformity surgery and review the use of image guidance in transsacral approaches.

Conclusions. Refinements in image-guidance technologies and minimal access techniques have converged on spinal pathology, affording patients the ability to undergo safe, accurate operations without the associated morbidities of conventional approaches. While percutaneous transpedicular screw placement is among the most common procedures to benefit from navigation, other areas of spine surgery can benefit from advances in neuronavigation and further growth in the field of image-guided MISS is anticipated.

The Naso-Axial Line: A New Method of Accurately Predicting the Inferior Limit of the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach to the Craniovertebral Junction

The Naso-Axial Line- A New Method of Accurately Predicting the Inferior Limit of the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach to the Craniovertebral Junction

Neurosurgery 71[ONS Suppl 2]:ons308–ons314, 2012

The endoscopic endonasal approach (EEA) has developed as an emerging surgical corridor to the craniovertebral junction (CVJ). In addition to understanding its indications and surgical anatomy, the ability to predict its inferior limit is vital for optimal surgical planning.

OBJECTIVE: To develop a method that accurately predicts the inferior limit of the EEA on the CVJ radiologically and to compare this with other currently used methods.

METHODS: Predissection computerized tomographic scans of 9 cadaver heads were used to delineate a novel line, the naso-axial line (NAxL), to predict the inferior EEA limit on the upper cervical spine. A previously described method with the use of the nasopalatine line (NPL or Kassam line) was also used. On computerized tomographic scans obtained following dissection of the EEA, the predicted inferior limits were compared with the actual extent of dissection.

RESULTS: The postdissection inferior EEA limit ranged from the dens tip to the upper half of the C2 body, which matched the limit predicted by NAxL, with no statistically significant difference between them. In contrast to the NAxL, the NPL predicted a significantly lower EEA limit (P , .001), ranging from the lower half of the C2 body to the superior end plate of C3.

CONCLUSION: The novel NAxL more accurately predicts the inferior limit of the EEA than the NPL. This method, which can be easily used on preoperative sagittal scans, accounts for variations in patients’ anatomy and can aid surgeons in the assessment of the EEA to address caudal CVJ pathology.