Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a powerful technique that provides wide access to the disc space and allows for large lordotic grafts. When used with posterior spinal fusion (PSF), the procedures are often staged within the same hospital admission. There are limited data on the perioperative risk profile of ALIF-first versus PSF-first circumferential fusions performed within the same hospital admission. In an effort to understand whether these procedures are associated with different perioperative complication profiles, the authors performed a retrospective review of their institutional experience in adult patients who had undergone circumferential lumbar fusions.
The electronic medicals records of patients who had undergone ALIF and PSF on separate days within the same hospital admission at a single academic center were retrospectively analyzed. Patients carrying a diagnosis of tumor, infection, or traumatic fracture were excluded. Demographics, surgical characteristics, and perioperative complications were collected and assessed.
A total of 373 patients, 217 of them women (58.2%), met the inclusion criteria. The mean age of the study cohort was 60 years. Surgical indications were as follows: degenerative disease or spondylolisthesis, 171 (45.8%); adult deformity, 168 (45.0%); and pseudarthrosis, 34 (9.1%). The majority of patients underwent ALIF first (321 [86.1%]) with a mean time of 2.5 days between stages. The mean number of levels fused was 2.1 for ALIF and 6.8 for PSF. In a comparison of ALIF-first to PSF-first cases, there were no major differences in demographics or surgical characteristics. Rates of intraoperative complications including venous injury were not significantly different between the two groups. The rates of postoperative ileus (11.8% vs 5.8%, p = 0.194) and ALIF-related wound complications (9.0% vs 3.8%, p = 0.283) were slightly higher in the ALIF-first group, although the differences did not reach statistical significance. Rates of other perioperative complications were no different.
In patients undergoing staged circumferential fusion with ALIF and PSF, there was no statistically significant difference in the rate of perioperative complications when comparing ALIF-first to PSF-first surgeries.