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Dennis J. Rivet, David Jeck, James Brennan, Adrian Epstein and Carl Lauryssen

Object. The authors conducted a prospective study to evaluate the clinical and radiological outcomes and complications associated with uni- and bilateral transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) performed using carbon fiber Brantigan I/F Cages and pedicle screw fixation.

Methods. Forty-two consecutive patients who had undergone uni- or bilateral TLIF between February 1999 and July 2000 were prospectively evaluated. Clinical outcome was graded using a modified Prolo Scale, the McGill Pain Index Scale, a follow-up questionnaire, and charts. An independent radiologist assessed radiological outcomes. All patients were followed for at least 1 year.

Based on Prolo Scale scores, an excellent or good 1-year outcome was achieved in 73% of patients; 90% of patients responded that they would undergo the procedure again. At 1 year, radiographic fusion was demonstrated in 74% and was statistically related to clinical outcome (p < 0.05).

There were no deaths or major hardware failures. Complications requiring repeated surgery included one case of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage and one case in which the hemovac drain was retained. There were four cases involving minor wound infections, eight involving CSF leaks, and none requiring repeated surgery. On routine follow-up radiography one pedicle screw was found to be broken; the patient remained asymptomatic and fusion occurred.

Conclusions. Unilateral and bilateral TLIF involving placement of carbon fiber cages and pedicle screw fixation are effective treatment options in patients with indications for lumbar arthrodesis. The procedures result in acceptable rates of fusion and clinical success, and a minimal incidence of morbidity when performed by an experienced surgeon.