Adjacent-segment disease (ASD) requiring operative intervention is a relatively common long-term consequence of lumbar fusion surgery. Although the incidence of ASD requiring reoperation is well described for traditional posterior lumbar approaches (2.5%–3.9% per year), it remains poorly characterized for stand-alone lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF). In this study, the authors report their institutional experience with ASD requiring reoperation after LLIF over an extended follow-up period of 4 years.
Medical records were reviewed for 276 consecutive patients who underwent stand-alone LLIF by a single surgeon for degenerative spinal disorders. Inclusion criteria (single-stage, stand-alone LLIF without posterior supplementation, with no prior lumbar instrumentation, and a minimum of 4 years of follow-up) were met by 182 patients, who were analyzed for operative ASD incidence (per-year rate), demographics, and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score. Operative ASD was strictly defined as new-onset pathology following index surgery at directly adjacent levels to the prior construct. Operative, rather than symptomatic or radiographic, ASD was analyzed to provide a consistent and impactful endpoint while avoiding retrospective diagnosis.
The study cohort of 182 patients had an operative ASD rate of 3.3% (n = 6 procedures) over 4 years of follow-up, for an incidence on Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of 0.88% (95% CI 0.67%–1.09%) per year. In comparing patients with operative ASD with those without, there were no significant differences in mean age (53.7 vs 56.2 years), male sex (33.3% vs 44.9%), smoking status (16.7% vs 25.0%), or number of levels fused (mean 1.33 vs 1.46). The operative ASD cohort had a greater mean BMI (37.3 vs 30.2, p < 0.01). Operative ASD patients had lower baseline ODI scores (33.8 vs 48.3, p = 0.02); however, no difference was observed in ODI at 6 weeks (34.0 vs 39.0) or 3 months (16.0 vs 32.8) postoperatively.
The incidence of ASD in LLIF for degenerative lumbar etiologies in this cohort was 0.88% (95% CI 0.67%–1.09%) per year. Meanwhile, the reported reoperation rates for ASD in posterior spinal approaches was 2.5% to 3.9% per year, which implies that LLIF may be preferable for well-selected patients.