The goal of this study was to evaluate factors that are associated with the need for additional posterior direct decompressive surgery after anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) or lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF).
Eighty-six adult patients who underwent ALIF or LLIF for degenerative spondylolisthesis and foraminal stenosis were enrolled. Patient factors (age, sex, number of surgery levels, and visual analog scale [VAS] score for leg and back pain); procedure-related factors (cage height and lordosis); and radiographic measurements (disc height [DH]; foraminal height [FH], foraminal area [FA], central canal diameter [CCD], and facet joint degeneration [FD]) were analyzed. All patients underwent staged surgery on 2 different days, with the anterior portion first, followed by the posterior portion.
Of 86 patients, 62 underwent posterior decompression and 24 had no posterior decompression. There were no significant differences between groups with regard to age, sex, preoperative VAS score for back pain, cage height, cage angulation, preoperative DH, FH, FA, CCD, and FD (p > 0.05). The group that underwent posterior decompression showed statistically different numbers of treated segments (1.92 vs 1.21, p < 0.01), preoperative VAS leg score (7.9 vs 6.3), symptom duration (14.2 months vs 9.4 months), postoperative DH improvement (61.3% vs 96.2%), postoperative FH improvement (21.5% vs 32.1%), postoperative FA improvement (24.1% vs 36.9%), and cage height minus preoperative DH (5.3 mm vs 7.5 mm) compared with the nondecompression group.
There appears to be some correlation between the need for posterior decompression and the number of treated segments, VAS leg scores, symptom duration, FH, FA, and difference between the cage height and preoperative DH. In selected patients undergoing staged surgery, indirect decompression without direct decompression may be a reasonable option in treating degenerative spinal conditions.