Open spinal fusion surgery is often associated with significant blood loss, postoperative pain, and prolonged recovery times. Seeking to minimize surgical and perioperative morbidity, the authors adopted an endoscopic minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) technique performed without general anesthesia. In this report, they present data on the first 100 patients treated with this procedure.
The authors conducted a retrospective review of the first 100 patients who underwent awake endoscopic MIS-TLIF at a single institution between 2014 and 2017. Surgery was performed while the patient was sedated but without intubation or the use of general anesthetic or narcotic agents. Long-lasting (liposomal) bupivacaine was used for local analgesia. The discectomy and placement of an expandable interbody graft were performed endoscopically, followed by percutaneous pedicle screw implantation. Inclusion criteria for the procedure consisted of diagnosis of degenerative disc disease with grade I or II spondylolisthesis and evidence of spinal stenosis or nerve impingement with intractable symptomatology.
Of the first 100 patients, 56 were female and 44 were male. Single-level fusion was performed in 84 patients and two-level fusion in 16 patients. The most commonly fused level was L4–5, representing 77% of all fused levels. The mean (± standard deviation) operative time was 84.5 ± 21.7 minutes for one-level fusions and 128.1 ± 48.6 minutes for two-level procedures. The mean intraoperative blood loss was 65.4 ± 76.6 ml for one-level fusions and 74.7 ± 33.6 ml for two-level fusions. The mean length of hospital stay was 1.4 ± 1.0 days. Four deaths occurred in the 100 patients; all four of those patients died from complications unrelated to surgery. In 82% of the surviving patients, 1-year follow-up Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) data were available. The mean preoperative ODI score was 29.6 ± 15.3 and the mean postoperative ODI score was 17.2 ± 16.9, which represents a significant mean reduction in the ODI score of −12.3 using a two-tailed paired t-test (p = 0.000001). In four cases, the surgical plan was revised to include general endotracheal anesthesia intraoperatively and was successfully completed. Other complications included two cases of cage migration, one case of osteomyelitis, and one case of endplate fracture; three of these complications occurred in the first 50 cases.
This series of the first 100 patients to undergo awake endoscopic MIS-TLIF demonstrates outcomes comparable to those reported in our earlier papers. This procedure can provide a safe and efficacious option for lumbar fusion with less morbidity than open surgery. Further refinements in surgical technique and technologies will allow for improved success.