Lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) has emerged as a popular method for lumbar fusion. In this study the authors aimed to quantify the biomechanical stability of an interbody implant inserted using the LLIF approach with and without various supplemental fixation methods, including an interspinous plate (IP).
Seven human cadaveric L2–5 specimens were tested intact and in 6 instrumented conditions. The interbody implant was intended to be used with supplemental fixation. In this study, however, the interbody was also tested without supplemental fixation for a relative comparison of these conditions. The instrumented conditions were as follows: 1) interbody implant without supplemental fixation (LLIF construct); and interbody implant with supplemental fixation performed using 2) unilateral pedicle screws (UPS) and rod (LLIF + UPS construct); 3) bilateral pedicle screws (BPS) and rods (LLIF + BPS construct); 4) lateral screws and lateral plate (LP) (LLIF + LP construct); 5) interbody LP and IP (LLIF + LP + IP construct); and 6) IP (LLIF + IP construct). Nondestructive, nonconstraining torque (7.5 Nm maximum) induced flexion, extension, lateral bending, and axial rotation, whereas 3D specimen range of motion (ROM) was determined optoelectronically.
The LLIF construct reduced ROM by 67% in flexion, 52% in extension, 51% in lateral bending, and 44% in axial rotation relative to intact specimens (p < 0.001). Adding BPS to the LLIF construct caused ROM to decrease by 91% in flexion, 82% in extension and lateral bending, and 74% in axial rotation compared with intact specimens (p < 0.001), providing the greatest stability among the constructs. Adding UPS to the LLIF construct imparted approximately one-half the stability provided by LLIF + BPS constructs, demonstrating significantly smaller ROM than the LLIF construct in all directions (flexion, p = 0.037; extension, p < 0.001; lateral bending, p = 0.012) except axial rotation (p = 0.07). Compared with the LLIF construct, the LLIF + LP had a significant reduction in lateral bending (p = 0.012), a moderate reduction in axial rotation (p = 0.18), and almost no benefit to stability in flexion-extension (p = 0.86). The LLIF + LP + IP construct provided stability comparable to that of the LLIF + BPS. The LLIF + IP construct provided a significant decrease in ROM compared with that of the LLIF construct alone in flexion and extension (p = 0.002), but not in lateral bending (p = 0.80) and axial rotation (p = 0.24). No significant difference was seen in flexion, extension, or axial rotation between LLIF + BPS and LLIF + IP constructs.
The LLIF construct that was tested significantly decreased ROM in all directions of loading, which indicated a measure of inherent stability. The LP significantly improved the stability of the LLIF construct in lateral bending only. Adding an IP device to the LLIF construct significantly improves stability in sagittal plane rotation. The LLIF + LP + IP construct demonstrated stability comparable to that of the gold standard 360° fixation (LLIF + BPS).