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Justin K. Scheer, Alexander F. Haddad, Andrew K. Chan, Charles M. Eichler, Bobby Tay, Shane Burch, Dean Chou, Christopher P. Ames, and Praveen V. Mummaneni


Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is an effective surgical modality for many lumbar degenerative pathologies, but a rare and infrequently reported complication is postoperative lymphocele. The goals of the present study were to review a large consecutive series of patients who underwent ALIF at a high-volume institution, estimate the rate of lymphocele occurrence after ALIF, and investigate the outcomes of patients who developed lymphocele after ALIF.


A retrospective review of the electronic medical record was completed, identifying all patients (≥ 18 years old) who underwent at a minimum a single-level ALIF from 2012 through 2019. Postoperative spinal and abdominal images, as well as radiologist reports, were reviewed for mention of lymphocele. Clinical data were collected and reported.


A total of 1322 patients underwent a minimum 1-level ALIF. Of these patients, 937 (70.9%) had either postoperative abdominal or lumbar spine images, and the resulting lymphocele incidence was 2.1% (20/937 patients). The mean ± SD age was 67 ± 10.9 years, and the male/female ratio was 1:1. Patients with lymphocele were significantly older than those without lymphocele (66.9 vs 58.9 years, p = 0.006). In addition, patients with lymphocele had a greater number of mean levels fused (2.5 vs 1.8, p < 0.001) and were more likely to have undergone ALIF at L2–4 (95.0% vs 66.4%, p = 0.007) than patients without lymphocele. On subsequent multivariate analysis, age (OR 1.07, 95% CI 1.01–1.12, p = 0.013), BMI (OR 1.10, 95% CI 1.01–1.18, p = 0.021), and number of levels fused (OR 1.82, 95% CI 1.05–3.14, p = 0.032) were independent prognosticators of postoperative lymphocele development. Patients with symptomatic lymphocele were successfully treated with either interventional radiology (IR) drainage and/or sclerosis therapy and achieved radiographic resolution. The mean ± SD length of hospital stay was 9.1 ± 5.2 days. Ten patients (50%) were postoperatively discharged to a rehabilitation center: 8 patients (40%) were discharged to home, 1 (5%) to a skilled nursing facility, and 1 (5%) to a long-term acute care facility.


After ALIF, 2.1% of patients were diagnosed with radiographically identified postoperative lymphocele and had risk factors such as increased age, BMI, and number of levels fused. Most patients presented within 1 month postoperatively, and their clinical presentations included abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and/or wound complications. Of note, 25% of identified lymphoceles were discovered incidentally. Patients with symptomatic lymphocele were successfully treated with either IR drainage and/or sclerosis therapy and achieved radiographic resolution.

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Takahito Fujimori, Shinichi Inoue, Hai Le, William W. Schairer, Sigurd H. Berven, Bobby K. Tay, Vedat Deviren, Shane Burch, Motoki Iwasaki, and Serena S. Hu


Despite increasing numbers of patients with adult spinal deformity, it is unclear how to select the optimal upper instrumented vertebra (UIV) in long fusion surgery for these patients. The purpose of this study was to compare the use of vertebrae in the upper thoracic (UT) versus lower thoracic (LT) spine as the upper instrumented vertebra in long fusion surgery for adult spinal deformity.


Patients who underwent fusion from the sacrum to the thoracic spine for adult spinal deformity with sagittal imbalance at a single medical center were studied. The patients with a sagittal vertical axis (SVA) ≥ 40 mm who had radiographs and completed the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-12) preoperatively and at final follow-up (≥ 2 years postoperatively) were included.


Eighty patients (mean age of 61.1 ± 10.9 years; 69 women and 11 men) met the inclusion criteria. There were 31 patients in the UT group and 49 patients in the LT group. The mean follow-up period was 3.6 ± 1.6 years. The physical component summary (PCS) score of the SF-12 significantly improved from the preoperative assessment to final follow-up in each group (UT, 34 to 41; LT, 29 to 37; p = 0.001). This improvement reached the minimum clinically important difference in both groups. There was no significant difference in PCS score improvement between the 2 groups (p = 0.8). The UT group had significantly greater preoperative lumbar lordosis (28° vs 18°, p = 0.03) and greater thoracic kyphosis (36° vs 18°, p = 0.001). After surgery, there was no significant difference in lumbar lordosis or thoracic kyphosis. The UT group had significantly greater postoperative cervicothoracic kyphosis (20° vs 11°, p = 0.009). The UT group tended to maintain a smaller positive SVA (51 vs 73 mm, p = 0.08) and smaller T-1 spinopelvic inclination (−2.6° vs 0.6°, p = 0.06). The LT group tended to have more proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK), although the difference did not reach statistical significance. Radiographic PJK was 32% in the UT group and 41% in the LT group (p = 0.4). Surgical PJK was 6.4% in the UT group and 10% in the LT group (p = 0.6).


Both the UT and LT groups demonstrated significant improvement in clinical and radiographic outcomes. A significant difference was not observed in improvement of clinical outcomes between the 2 groups.