While performing lateral lumbar interbody fusion surgery, one of the surgical goals is to release the contralateral side with a Cobb elevator, allowing distraction of the interbody space. Many times, there are large osteophytes on the contralateral side, and the osteophytes can be split open with the Cobb or blunt instrument. It is extremely rare for the actual osteophyte to break off from the vertebral body into the contralateral psoas muscle and lumbar plexus.
The authors report a case of symptomatic lumbar plexopathy caused by an osteophyte fracture after an oblique lumbar interbody fusion requiring a right-sided anterior approach to excise the bony fragment. They illustrate the case with imaging that the radiologist did not comment on, and they also show a video of the surgical excision of the osteophyte through a right-sided anterior lumbar retroperitoneal approach. The authors also show how the patient had spontaneous right-sided electromyography (EMG) firing before excision of the osteophyte and how the EMG firing resolved after excision.
Although the literature is plentiful with regard to ipsilateral approach–related complications, the authors discuss the literature with regard to contralateral complications after minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion.