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.

Percutaneous Direct Pars Repair in Young Athletes

Neurosurgery 92:263–270, 2023

Lumbar pars defects are common in adolescent athletes and are often due to recurrent axial loading and traumatic stressors.

OBJECTIVE: To present an updated case series of young athletes who underwent percutaneous direct pars repair after failure of conservative management.

METHODS: A single-center, nonrandomized, retrospective observation study of athletes who were referred for minimally invasive direct pars repair after failure of at least 6 months of conservative management was performed. Summary demographic information, clinical features of presentation, perioperative and intraoperative radiographic imaging, and visual analog scale back pain scores were collected and analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 21 patients were included (mean age [± SD] 17.47 ± 3.02 years, range 14-25 years), 6 of whom were female (29%). All patients presented with bilateral pars fractures, with L5 being the most frequent level involved (n = 13). The average follow-up time was 31.52 ± 9.38 months (range 3-110 months). The visual analog scale score for back pain was significantly reduced from 7.62 ± 1.83 preoperatively to 0.28 ± 0.56 at the final postoperative examination (P < .01). Fusion was noted in 20 of the 21 patients on final follow-up (95%).

CONCLUSION: Percutaneous direct pars repair is a safe and effective means in treating young adolescents who have failed conservative management. The advantages included minimized muscle and soft tissue dissection, reduced blood loss, and early mobilization and recovery. In young athletes who desire return to high-level physical activity, this surgical technique is of particular benefit and should be considered in this patient population.

Comparison of local and regional radiographic outcomes in minimally invasive and open TLIF

J Neurosurg Spine 37:384–394, 2022

Local and regional radiographic outcomes following minimally invasive (MI) transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) versus open TLIF remain unclear. The purpose of this study was to provide a comprehensive assessment of local and regional radiographic parameters following MI-TLIF and open TLIF. The authors hypothesized that open TLIF provides greater segmental and global lordosis correction than MI-TLIF.

METHODS A single-center retrospective cohort study of consecutive patients undergoing MI- or open TLIF for grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis was performed. One-to-one nearest-neighbor propensity score matching (PSM) was used to match patients who underwent open TLIF to those who underwent MI-TLIF. Sagittal segmental radiographic measures included segmental lordosis (SL), anterior disc height (ADH), posterior disc height (PDH), foraminal height (FH), percent spondylolisthesis, and cage position. Lumbopelvic radiographic parameters included overall lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic incidence (PI)–lumbar lordosis (PI-LL) mismatch, sacral slope (SS), and pelvic tilt (PT). Change in segmental or overall lordosis after surgery was considered “lordosing” if the change was > 0° and “kyphosing” if it was ≤ 0°. Student t-tests or Wilcoxon rank-sum tests were used to compare outcomes between MI-TLIF and open-TLIF groups.

RESULTS A total of 267 patients were included in the study, 114 (43%) who underwent MI-TLIF and 153 (57%) who underwent open TLIF, with an average follow-up of 56.6 weeks (SD 23.5 weeks). After PSM, there were 75 patients in each group. At the latest follow-up both MI- and open-TLIF patients experienced significant improvements in assessment scores obtained with the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the numeric rating scale for low-back pain (NRS-BP), without significant differences between groups (p > 0.05). Both MI- and open-TLIF patients experienced significant improvements in SL, ADH, and percent corrected spondylolisthesis compared to baseline (p < 0.001). However, the MI-TLIF group experienced significantly larger magnitudes of correction with respect to these metrics (ΔSL 4.14° ± 4.35° vs 1.15° ± 3.88°, p < 0.001; ΔADH 4.25 ± 3.68 vs 1.41 ± 3.77 mm, p < 0.001; percent corrected spondylolisthesis: −10.82% ± 6.47% vs −5.87% ± 8.32%, p < 0.001). In the MI-TLIF group, LL improved in 44% (0.3° ± 8.5°) of the cases, compared to 48% (0.9° ± 6.4°) of the cases in the open-TLIF group (p > 0.05). Stratification by operative technique (unilateral vs bilateral facetectomy) and by interbody device (static vs expandable) did not yield statistically significant differences (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS Both MI- and open-TLIF patients experienced significant improvements in patient-reported outcome (PRO) measures and local radiographic parameters, with neutral effects on regional alignment. Surprisingly, in our cohort, change in SL was significantly greater in MI-TLIF patients, perhaps reflecting the effect of operative techniques, technological innovations, and the preservation of the posterior tension band. Taking these results together, no significant overall differences in LL between groups were demonstrated, which suggests that MI-TLIF is comparable to open approaches in providing radiographic correction after surgery. These findings suggest that alignment targets can be achieved by either MI- or open-TLIF approaches, highlighting the importance of surgeon attention to these variables.

Endplate defects, not the severity of spinal stenosis, contribute to low back pain in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis

The Spine Journal 22 (2022) 370−378

It is controversial whether lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) itself contributes to low back pain (LBP). Lower truncal skeletal muscle mass, spinopelvic malalignment, intervertebral disc degeneration, and endplate abnormalities are thought to be related to LBP. However, whether these factors cause LBP in patients with LSS is unclear.PURPOSE: To identify factors associated with LBP in patients with LSS.

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING: Cross-sectional design.

PATIENT SAMPLE: A total of 260 patients (119 men and 141 women, average age 72.8 years) with neurogenic claudication caused by LSS, as confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

OUTCOME MEASURES: Ratings of LBP, buttock and leg pain, and numbness on a numerical rating scale (NRS), 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) scores, muscle mass measured by bioelectrical impedance analysis, and radiographic measurements including slippage and lumbopelvic alignment. The severity of LSS, endplate defects, Modic endplate changes, intervertebral disc degeneration, and facet joint osteoarthritis were assessed on MRI.

METHODS: The presence of LBP was defined as an NRS score ≥3. The demographic data, patient-reported outcomes, and radiological and MRI findings were compared between patients with and without LBP. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to identify the factors that were independently associated with the presence of LBP.

RESULTS: There were significant differences between patients with and without LBP for buttock and leg pain and numbness on the NRS, general health on the SF-36, presence of endplate defects, presence of Modic changes, disc degeneration grading, and disc height grading (all p < .05). Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed significant associations between LBP and diabetes (OR 2.43; 95% CI 1.07−5.53), buttock and leg numbness on the NRS (OR 1.34; 95% CI 1.17−1.52), general health on the SF-36 (OR 0.97; 95% CI 0.95−0.99), and the presence of erosive endplate defects (OR 3.04; 95% CI 1.51−6.11) (all p < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that LBP in patients with LSS should be carefully assessed not only for spinal stenosis but also clinical factors and endplate defects.

Decompression alone versus decompression and instrumented fusion for the treatment of isthmic spondylolisthesis: a randomized controlled trial

J Neurosurg Spine 35:687–697, 2021

The most advocated surgical technique to treat symptoms of isthmic spondylolisthesis is decompression with instrumented fusion. A less-invasive classical approach has also been reported, which consists of decompression only. In this study the authors compared the clinical outcomes of decompression only with those of decompression with instrumented fusion in patients with isthmic spondylolisthesis.

METHODS Eighty-four patients with lumbar radiculopathy or neurogenic claudication secondary to low-grade isthmic spondylolisthesis were randomly assigned to decompression only (n = 43) or decompression with instrumented fusion (n = 41). Primary outcome parameters were scores on the Roland Disability Questionnaire (RDQ), separate visual analog scales (VASs) for back pain and leg pain, and patient report of perceived recovery at 12-week and 2-year follow-ups. The proportion of reoperations was scored as a secondary outcome measure. Repeated measures ANOVA according to the intention-to-treat principle was performed.

RESULTS Decompression alone did not show superiority in terms of disability scores at 12-week follow-up (p = 0.32, 95% CI −4.02 to 1.34), nor in any other outcome measure. At 2-year follow-up, RDQ disability scores improved more in the fusion group (10.3, 95% CI 3.9–8.2, vs 6.0, 95% CI 8.2–12.4; p = 0.006, 95% CI −7.3 to −1.3). Likewise, back pain decreased more in the fusion group (difference: −18.3 mm, CI −32.1 to −4.4, p = 0.01) on a 100-mm VAS scale, and a higher proportion of patients perceived recovery as showing “good results” (44% vs 74%, p = 0.01). Cumulative probabilities for reoperation were 47% in the decompression and 13% in the fusion group (p < 0.001) at the 2-year follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS In patients with isthmic spondylolisthesis, decompression with instrumented fusion resulted in comparable short-term results, significantly better long-term outcomes, and fewer reoperations than decompression alone. Decompression with instrumented fusion is a superior surgical technique that should in general be offered as a first treatment option for isthmic spondylolisthesis, but not for degenerative spondylolisthesis, which has a different etiology. Clinical trial registration number: NTR1300 (Netherlands Trial Register)

Does transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion induce lordosis or kyphosis?

J Neurosurg Spine 35:419–426, 2021

Conflicting reports exist about whether transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) induces lordosis or kyphosis, ranging from decreasing lordosis by 3.71° to increasing it by 18.8°. In this study, the authors’ aim was to identify factors that result in kyphosis or lordosis after TLIF.

METHODS A single-center, retrospective study of open TLIF without osteotomy for spondylolisthesis with a minimum 2-year follow-up was undertaken. Preoperative and postoperative clinical and radiographic parameters and cage specifics were collected. TLIFs were considered to be “lordosing” if postoperative induction of lordosis was > 0° and “kyphosing” if postoperative induction of lordosis was ≤ 0°.

RESULTS A total of 137 patients with an average follow-up of 52.5 months (range 24–130 months) were included. The overall postoperative disc angle (DA) and segmental lordosis (SL) increased by 1.96° and 1.88° (p = 0.003 and p = 0.038), respectively, whereas overall lumbar lordosis remained unchanged (p = 0.133). Seventy-nine patients had lordosing TLIFs with a mean SL increase of 5.72° ± 3.97°, and 58 patients had kyphosing TLIFs with a mean decrease of 3.02° ± 2.98°. Multivariate analysis showed that a lower preoperative DA, lower preoperative SL, and anterior cage placement were correlated with the greatest increase in postoperative SL (p = 0.040, p < 0.001, and p = 0.035, respectively). There was no difference in demographics, cage type or height, or spinopelvic parameters between the groups (p > 0.05). Linear regression showed that the preoperative DA and SL correlated with SL after TLIF (R2 = 0.198, p < 0.001; and R2 = 0.2931, p < 0.001, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS Whether a TLIF induces kyphosis or lordosis depends on the preoperative DA, preoperative SL, and cage position. Less-lordotic segments became more lordotic postoperatively, and highly lordotic segments may lose lordosis after TLIF. Cages placed more anteriorly were associated with more lordosis.

Predictors of indirect neural decompression in minimally invasive transpsoas lateral lumbar interbody fusion

J Neurosurg Spine 35:80–90, 2021

An advantage of lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) surgery is the indirect decompression of the neural elements that occurs because of the resulting disc height restoration, spinal realignment, and ligamentotaxis. The degree to which indirect decompression occurs varies; no method exists for effectively predicting which patients will respond. In this study, the authors identify preoperative predictive factors of indirect decompression of the central canal.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective evaluation of prospectively collected consecutive patients at a single institution who were treated with LLIF without direct decompression. Preoperative and postoperative MRI was used to grade central canal stenosis, and 3D volumetric reconstructions were used to measure changes in the central canal area (CCA). Multivariate regression was used to identify predictive variables correlated with radiographic increases in the CCA and clinically successful improvement in visual analog scale (VAS) leg pain scores.

RESULTS One hundred seven levels were treated in 73 patients (mean age 68 years). The CCA increased 54% from a mean of 0.96 cm2 to a mean of 1.49 cm2 (p < 0.001). Increases in anterior disc height (74%), posterior disc height (81%), right (25%) and left (22%) foraminal heights, and right (12%) and left (15%) foraminal widths, and reduction of spondylolisthesis (67%) (all p < 0.001) were noted. Multivariate evaluation of predictive variables identified that preoperative spondylolisthesis (p < 0.001), reduced posterior disc height (p = 0.004), and lower body mass index (p = 0.042) were independently associated with radiographic increase in the CCA. Thirty-two patients were treated at a single level and had moderate or severe central stenosis preoperatively. Significant improvements in Oswestry Disability Index and VAS back and leg pain scores were seen in these patients (all p < 0.05). Twenty-five (78%) patients achieved the minimum clinically important difference in VAS leg pain scores, with only 2 (6%) patients requiring direct decompression postoperatively due to persistent symptoms and stenosis. Only increased anterior disc height was predictive of clinical failure to achieve the minimum clinically important difference.

CONCLUSIONS LLIF successfully achieves indirect decompression of the CCA, even in patients with substantial central stenosis. Low body mass index, preoperative spondylolisthesis, and disc height collapse appear to be most predictive of successful indirect decompression. Patients with preserved disc height but severe preoperative stenosis are at higher risk of failure to improve clinically.

Is the Goutallier grade of multifidus fat infiltration associated with adjacent-segment degeneration after lumbar spinal fusion?

J Neurosurg Spine 34:190–195, 2021

The aim of this study was to investigate whether fat infiltration of the lumbar multifidus (LM) muscle affects revision surgery rates for adjacent-segment degeneration (ASD) after L4–5 transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) for degenerative spondylolisthesis.

METHODS A total of 178 patients undergoing single-level L4–5 TLIF for spondylolisthesis (2006 to 2016) were retrospectively analyzed. Inclusion criteria were a minimum 2-year follow-up, preoperative MR images and radiographs, and single-level L4–5 TLIF for degenerative spondylolisthesis. Twenty-three patients underwent revision surgery for ASD during the follow-up. Another 23 patients without ASD were matched with the patients with ASD. Demographic data, Roussouly curvature type, and spinopelvic parameter data were collected. The fat infiltration of the LM muscle (L3, L4, and L5) was evaluated on preoperative MRI using the Goutallier classification system.

RESULTS A total of 46 patients were evaluated. There were no differences in age, sex, BMI, or spinopelvic parameters with regard to patients with and those without ASD (p > 0.05). Fat infiltration of the LM was significantly greater in the patients with ASD than in those without ASD (p = 0.029). Fat infiltration was most significant at L3 in patients with ASD than in patients without ASD (p = 0.017). At L4 and L5, there was an increasing trend of fat infiltration in the patients with ASD than in those without ASD, but the difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.354 for L4 and p = 0.077 for L5).

CONCLUSIONS Fat infiltration of the LM may be associated with ASD after L4–5 TLIF for spondylolisthesis. Fat infiltration at L3 may also be associated with ASD at L3–4 after L4–5 TLIF.

Predictors of the Best Outcomes Following Minimally Invasive Surgery for Grade 1 Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis

Neurosurgery, 87 (6) 2020: 1130–1138

The factors driving the best outcomes following minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis are not clearly elucidated.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the factors that drive the best 24-mo patient-reported outcomes (PRO) following MIS surgery for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS: A total of 259 patients from the Quality Outcomes Database lumbar spondylolisthesis module underwent single-level surgery for degenerative grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis with MIS techniques (188 fusions, 72.6%). Twenty-four-month follow-up PROs were collected and included the Oswestry disability index (ODI) change (ie, 24-mo minus baseline value), numeric rating scale (NRS) back pain change, NRS leg pain change, EuroQoL-5D (EQ-5D) questionnaire change, and North American Spine Society (NASS) satisfaction questionnaire. Multivariable models were constructed to identify predictors of PRO change.

RESULTS: The mean age was 64.2 ± 11.5 yr and consisted of 148 (57.1%) women and 111(42.9%) men. In multivariable analyses, employment was associated with superior postoperative ODI change (β-7.8; 95% CI [−12.9 to −2.6]; P = .003), NRS back pain change (β −1.2; 95% CI [−2.1 to −0.4]; P = .004), EQ-5D change (β 0.1; 95% CI [0.01-0.1]; P = .03), and NASS satisfaction (OR = 3.7; 95% CI [1.7-8.3]; P < .001). Increasing age was associated with superior NRS leg pain change (β −0.1; 95% CI [−0.1 to −0.01]; P= .03) and NASS satisfaction (OR=1.05; 95%CI [1.01-1.09]; P=.02). Fusion surgerieswere associated with superior ODI change (β −6.7; 95% CI [−12.7 to −0.7]; P= .03), NRS back pain change (β −1.1; 95% CI [−2.1 to −0.2]; P= .02), and NASS satisfaction (OR = 3.6; 95% CI [1.6-8.3]; P= .002).

CONCLUSION: Preoperative employment and surgeries, including a fusion, were predictors of superior outcomes across the domains of disease-specific disability, back pain, leg pain, quality of life, and patient satisfaction. Increasing age was predictive of superior outcomes for leg pain improvement and satisfaction.


Oblique lumbar interbody fusion at L5S1(OLIF51)

Acta Neurochirurgica (2019) 161:1079–1083

OLIF51 retains the advantages of traditional ALIF procedure with good fusion rates and improvement in radiographic parameters and reduces its drawbacks. It has the added advantage of being a minimal access technique.

Methods Preoperative analysis of the vascular anatomy using CT angiography is mandatory. OLIF51 is done in right lateral position using specialized retractor blades and Thompson retractor system. The procedure is similar to OLIF at other levels except for the differences described here. The instruments are specialized for OLIF at L5S1.

Conclusion OLIF51 provides an excellent alternative to traditional ALIF

Radiological adjacent-segment degeneration in L4–5 spondylolisthesis: comparison between dynamic stabilization and minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion

J Neurosurg Spine 29:250–258, 2018

Pedicle screw–based dynamic stabilization has been an alternative to conventional lumbar fusion for the surgical management of low-grade spondylolisthesis. However, the true effect of dynamic stabilization on adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) remains undetermined. Authors of this study aimed to investigate the incidence of ASD and to compare the clinical outcomes of dynamic stabilization and minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MI-TLIF).

METHODS The records of consecutive patients with Meyerding grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis who had undergone surgical management at L4–5 in the period from 2007 to 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into two groups according to the surgery performed: Dynesys dynamic stabilization (DDS) group and MI-TLIF group. Pre- and postoperative radiological evaluations, including radiography, CT, and MRI studies, were compared. Adjacent discs were evaluated using 4 radiological parameters: instability (antero- or retrolisthesis), disc degeneration (Pfirrmann classification), endplate degeneration (Modic classification), and range of motion (ROM). Clinical outcomes, measured with the visual analog scale (VAS) for back and leg pain, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores, were also compared.

RESULTS A total of 79 patients with L4–5 degenerative spondylolisthesis were included in the analysis. During a mean follow-up of 35.2 months (range 24–89 months), there were 56 patients in the DDS group and 23 in the MI-TLIF group. Prior to surgery, both groups were very similar in demographic, radiological, and clinical data. Postoperation, both groups had similarly significant improvement in clinical outcomes (VAS, ODI, and JOA scores) at each time point of evaluation. There was a lower chance of disc degeneration (Pfirrmann classification) of the adjacent discs in the DDS group than in the MI-TLIF group (17% vs 37%, p = 0.01). However, the DDS and MI-TLIF groups had similar rates of instability (15.2% vs 17.4%, respectively, p = 0.92) and endplate degeneration (1.8% vs 6.5%, p = 0.30) at the cranial (L3–4) and caudal (L5–S1) adjacent levels after surgery. The mean ROM in the cranial and caudal levels was also similar in the two groups. None of the patients required secondary surgery for any ASD (defined by radiological criteria).

CONCLUSIONS The clinical improvements after DDS were similar to those following MI-TLIF for L4–5 Meyerding grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis at 3 years postoperation. According to radiological evaluations, there was a lower chance of disc degeneration in the adjacent levels of the patients who had undergone DDS. However, other radiological signs of ASD, including instability, endplate degeneration, and ROM, were similar between the two groups. Although none of the patients in the present series required secondary surgery, a longer follow-up and a larger number of patients would be necessary to corroborate the protective effect of DDS against ASD.

Lumbar Fusion for Degenerative Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Neurosurgery 80:701–715, 2017

Due to uncertain evidence, lumbar fusion for degenerative indications is associated with the greatest measured practice variation of any surgical procedure.

OBJECTIVE: To summarize the current evidence on the comparative safety and efficacy of lumbar fusion, decompression-alone, or nonoperative care for degenerative indications.

METHODS: A systematic review was conducted using PubMed, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (up to June 30, 2016). Comparative studies reporting validated measures of safety or efficacy were included. Treatment effects were calculated through DerSimonian and Laird random effects models.

RESULTS: The literature search yielded 65 studies (19 randomized controlled trials, 16 prospective cohort studies, 15 retrospective cohort studies, and 15 registries) enrolling a total of 302 620 patients. Disability, pain, and patient satisfaction following fusion, decompression-alone, or nonoperative care were dependent on surgical indications and study methodology. Relative to decompression-alone, the risk of reoperation following fusion was increased for spinal stenosis (relative risk [RR] 1.17, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.06-1.28) and decreased for spondylolisthesis (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.68-0.83). Among patients with spinal stenosis, complications were more frequent following fusion (RR 1.87, 95% CI 1.18-2.96). Mortality was not significantly associated with any treatment modality.

CONCLUSION: Positive clinical change was greatest in patients undergoing fusion for spondylolisthesis while complications and the risk of reoperation limited the benefit of fusion for spinal stenosis. The relative safety and efficacy of fusion for chronic low back pain suggests careful patient selection is required (PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews number, CRD42015020153).


Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Associated With Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Secondary Fusion Rates Following Open vs Minimally Invasive Decompression

Neurosurgery 80:355–367, 2017

Decompression without fusion is a treatment option in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) associated with stable low-grade degenerative spondylolis- thesis (DS). A minimally invasive unilateral laminotomy (MIL) for “over the top” decom- pression might be a less destabilizing alternative to traditional open laminectomy (OL). OBJECTIVE: To review secondary fusion rates after open vs minimally invasive decom- pression surgery.

METHODS: We performed a literature search in Pubmed/MEDLINE using the keywords “lumbar spondylolisthesis” and “decompression surgery.” All studies that separately reported the outcome of patients with LSS+DS that were treated by OL or MIL (transmuscular or subperiosteal route)were included in our systematic review and meta-analysis. The primary end point was secondary fusion rate. Secondary end points were total reoperation rate, postoperative progression of listhetic slip, and patient satisfaction.

RESULTS: We identified 37 studies (19 with OL, 18 with MIL), with a total of 1156 patients, that were published between 1983 and 2015. The studies’evidence was mostly level 3 or 4. Secondary fusion rates were 12.8% after OL and 3.3% after MIL; the total reoperation rates were 16.3% after OL and 5.8% after MIL. In the OL cohort, 72% of the studies reported a slip progression compared to 0% in the MIL cohort, respectively. After OL, satisfactory outcome was 62.7% compared to 76% after MIL.

CONCLUSION: In patients with LSS and DS, minimally invasive decompression is associated with lower reoperation and fusion rates, less slip progression, and greater patient satisfaction than open surgery.


Surgery for adult spondylolisthesis: a systematic review of the evidence


Eur Spine J (2016) 25:2359–2367

Surgery for isthmic and degenerative spondylolisthesis (SL) in adults is carried out very frequently in everyday practice. However, it is still unclear whether the results of surgery are better than those of conservative treatment and whether decompression alone or instrumented fusion with decompression should be recommended. In addition, the role of reduction is unclear.

Four clinically relevant key questions were addressed in this study: (1) Is surgery more successful than conservative treatment in relation to pain and function in adult patients with isthmic SL? (2) Is surgery more successful than conservative treatment in relation to pain and function in adult patients with degenerative SL? (3) Is instrumented fusion with decompression more successful in relation to pain and function than decompression alone in adult patients with degenerative SL and spinal canal stenosis? (4) Is instrumented fusion with reduction more successful in relation to pain and function than instrumented fusion without reduction in adult patients with isthmic or degenerative SL?

A systematic PubMed search was carried out to identify randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials on these topics. Papers were analyzed systematically in a search for the best evidence.A total of 18 studies was identified and analyzed: two for question 1, eight for question 2, four for question 3, and four for question 4.

Surgery appears to be better than conservative treatment in adults with isthmic SL (poor evidence) and also in adults with degenerative SL (good evidence). Instrumented fusion with decompression appears to be more successful than decompression alone in adults with degenerative SL and spinal stenosis (poor evidence). Reduction and instrumented fusion does not appear to be more successful than instrumented fusion without reduction in adults with isthmic or degenerative SL (moderate evidence).

Outcomes of Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery Based on Indication: A Prospective Study

Outcomes of Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Surgery Based on Indication- A Prospective Study

Neurosurgery 76:7–24, 2015

There is limited information on clinical outcomes after anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) based on the indications for surgery.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the clinical and radiological outcomes of ALIF for each surgical indication.

METHODS: This prospective clinical study included 125 patients who underwent ALIF over a 2-year period. The patients were evaluated preoperatively and postoperatively. Outcome measures included the Short Form-12, Oswestry Disability Index, Visual Analog Scale, and Patient Satisfaction Index.

RESULTS: After a mean follow-up of 20 months, the clinical condition of the patients was significantly better than their preoperative status across all indications. A total of 108 patients had a Patient Satisfaction Index score of 1 or 2, indicating a successful clinical outcome in 86%. Patients with degenerative disk disease (with and without radiculopathy), spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis had the best clinical response to ALIF, with statistically significant improvement in the Short Form-12, Oswestry Disability Index, and Visual Analog Scale. Failed posterior fusion and adjacent segment disease showed statistically significant improvement in all of these clinical outcome scores, although the mean changes in the Short Form-12 Mental Component Summary, Oswestry Disability Index, and Visual Analog Scale (back pain) were lower. The overall radiological fusion rate was 94.4%. Superior radiological outcomes (fusion .90%) were observed in patients with degenerative disk disease (with and without radiculopathy), spondylolisthesis, and failed posterior fusion, whereas in adjacent segment disease, it was 80%.

CONCLUSION: ALIF is an effective treatment for degenerative disk disease (with and without radiculopathy) and spondylolisthesis. Although results were promising for scoliosis, failed posterior fusion, and adjacent segment disease, further studies are necessary to establish the effectiveness of ALIF in these conditions.

Long-term Follow-up of Minimal-Access and Open Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion for Spondylolisthesis


Neurosurgery 72:443–451, 2013

Although posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is regarded as an effective treatment for spondylolisthesis, few studies have reported comprehensive, longterm outcome data, and none has investigated the incidence of deterioration of outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To determine and compare the success rates and long-term stability of outcomes of open PLIF and minimal-access PLIF in the treatment of radicular pain and back pain in patients with spondylolisthesis.

METHODS: Forty-three patients were followed for a minimum of 3 years. They completed a Short-Form Health Survey and visual analog scores for back pain and leg pain and underwent lumbar spine radiography. Outcomes were compared with baseline data and 12-month data.

RESULTS: Surgery succeeded in reducing listhesis and increasing disc height, but had little effect on lumbar lordosis or the angulation of the segment treated. At 12 months after surgery, listhesis was reduced, disc height was increased, leg pain was reduced or eliminated, and physical functioning restored. Back pain was less often relieved. These outcomes were largely maintained over the ensuing 2 years. Only 5% to 10% of patients reported deterioration in their relief of pain. Depending on the definition adopted for success, the long-term success rate of PLIF may be as high as 70%.

CONCLUSION: For the relief of leg pain, the success rates of open PLIF (70%) and minimalaccess PLIF (67%) for spondylolisthesis are high and durable in the long-term. PLIF is less often successful in relieving back pain, but the outcomes are maintained. The outcomes of open PLIF and minimal-access PLIF were statistically indistinguishable.