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Gregory P. Lekovic, Eric A. Potts, Dean G. Karahalios, and Graham Hall

Object

The goal of this study was to compare the accuracy of thoracic pedicle screw placement aided by two different image-guidance modalities.

Methods

The charts of 40 consecutive patients who had undergone stabilization of the thoracic spine between January 2003 and January 2005 were retrospectively reviewed. Three patients were excluded from the study because, on the basis of preoperative findings, small pedicle diameter precluded the use of pedicle screws. Thus, a total of 37 patients had 277 screws placed with the aid of either virtual fluoroscopy or isocentric C-arm 3D navigation. The indications for surgery included trauma, degenerative disease, and tumor, and were similar in both groups. All 37 patients underwent postoperative computed tomography scanning, and an independent reviewer graded all screws based on axial, sagittal, and coronal projections for a full determination of the placement of the screw in the pedicle.

Results

The rate of unintended perforations was found to depend on pedicle diameter (p < 0.0001). There were no statistical differences between groups with regard to rate or grade of cortical perforations. Overall, the rate and grade of perforations was low, and there were no neurological or vascular complications.

Conclusions

The authors have shown that either image-guidance system may be used with a high degree of accuracy and safety. Because both systems were found to be comparably safe and accurate, the choice of image-guidance modality may be determined by the level of surgeon comfort and/or availability of the system.

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Stephen K. Mendenhall, Blake H. Priddy, Jean-Pierre Mobasser, and Eric A. Potts

OBJECTIVE

The use of recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (rhBMP-2) in routine anterior cervical fusion (ACF) is controversial. Early reports described high complication rates. A variety of dosing regimens ranging from 0.6 to 2.1 mg per level fused have been reported. The authors hypothesized that the high amounts of rhBMP-2 used in these studies led to the high complication rates observed; therefore, they set out to evaluate the safety and efficacy of low-dose rhBMP-2 for use in ACFs.

METHODS

Patient inclusion criteria were 1) age 18 to 70 years; 2) initial stand-alone ACF construct; 3) fusion augmentation with rhBMP-2; and 4) at least 1 year of radiographic follow-up. A successful fusion was defined by either 1) lateral flexion-extension radiographs with less than 1 mm of movement across the fused spinous processes, or 2) bone bridging at least half of the fusion area originally achieved by surgery on fine-cut CT. Patient demographics, perioperative data, and postoperative complications were recorded.

RESULTS

A total of 198 patients met the inclusion criteria and were included for analysis. Sixty-two patients (31%) were smokers. The median number of levels fused was 2 (IQR 1.25). The mean dose of rhBMP-2 was 0.50 ± 0.09 mg per level. Twenty-two (11%) patients experienced dysphagia. Eleven (6%) patients experienced cervical swelling. Two (1%) patients returned to the operating room (OR) for postoperative hematoma. One (0.5%) patient returned to the OR for seroma. Two (1%) patients experienced pseudarthrosis requiring a posterior fusion. Three (2%) patients experienced a new postoperative neurological deficit that had recovered by last the follow-up. Overall, 190 (96%) patients experienced solid arthrodesis over an average of 15 months of follow-up. There was no difference in fusion rates between patients who were either smokers or nonsmokers (p = 0.7073).

CONCLUSIONS

The use of low-dose rhBMP-2 safely and effectively augmented anterior cervical arthrodesis. The low-dose protocol assessed in this study appeared to significantly reduce complications associated with rhBMP-2 use in ACF compared with the literature. The authors have determined that using low-dose rhBMP-2 in patients who are smokers, those with multilevel ACFs, or others at high risk of developing pseudarthrosis is recommended.

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R. Shane Tubbs, Matthew R. Levin, Marios Loukas, Eric A. Potts, and Aaron A. Cohen-Gadol

Object

To date, only scant descriptions of the cluneal nerves are available. As these nerves, and especially the superior group, may be encountered and injured during posterior iliac crest harvest for spinal arthrodesis procedures, the present study was performed to better elucidate their anatomy and to provide anatomical landmarks for their localization.

Methods

The superior and middle cluneal nerves were dissected from their origin to termination in 20 cadaveric sides. The distance between the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS) and superior cluneal nerves at the iliac crest and the distance between this bony prominence and the origin of the middle cluneals were measured. The specific course of each nerve was documented, and the diameter and length of all cluneal nerves were measured.

Results

Superior and middle cluneal nerves were found on all sides. An intermediate superior cluneal nerve and lateral superior cluneal nerve were not identified on 4 and 5 sides, respectively. The superior cluneal nerves always passed through the psoas major and paraspinal muscles and traveled posterior to the quadratus lumborum. The mean diameters of the superior and middle cluneal nerves were 1.1 and 0.8 mm, respectively. From the PSIS, the superior cluneal branches passed at means of 5, 6.5, and 7.3 cm laterally on the iliac crest. At their origin, the middle cluneal nerves had mean distances of 2 cm superior to the PSIS, 0 cm from the PSIS, and 1.5 cm inferior to the PSIS. In their course, the middle cluneal nerves traversed the paraspinal muscles attaching onto the dorsal sacrum.

Conclusions

Knowledge of the cutaneous nerves that cross the posterior aspect of the iliac crest may assist in avoiding their injury during bone harvest. Additionally, an understanding of the anatomical pathway that these nerves take may be useful in decompressive procedures for entrapment syndromes involving the cluneal nerves.

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Scott L. Zuckerman, Clinton J. Devin, Vincent Rossi, Silky Chotai, E. Hunter Dyer, John J. Knightly, Eric A. Potts, Kevin T. Foley, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon, and Anthony L. Asher

OBJECTIVE

National databases collect large amounts of clinical information, yet application of these data can be challenging. The authors present the NeuroPoint Alliance and Institute for Healthcare Improvement (NPA-IHI) program as a novel attempt to create a quality improvement (QI) tool informed through registry data to improve the quality of care delivered. Reducing the length of stay (LOS) and readmission after elective lumbar fusion was chosen as the pilot module.

METHODS

The NPA-IHI program prospectively enrolled patients undergoing elective 1- to 3-level lumbar fusions across 8 institutions. A three-pronged approach was taken that included the following phases: 1) Research Phase, 2) Development Phase, and 3) Implementation Phase. Primary outcomes were LOS and readmission. From January to June 2017, a learning system was created utilizing monthly conference calls, weekly data submission, and continuous refinement of the proposed QI tool. Nonparametric tests were used to assess the impact of the QI intervention.

RESULTS

The novel QI tool included the following three areas of intervention: 1) preoperative discharge assessment (location, date, and instructions), 2) inpatient changes (LOS rounding checklist, daily huddle, and pain assessments), and 3) postdischarge calls (pain, primary care follow-up, and satisfaction). A total of 209 patients were enrolled, and the most common procedure was a posterior laminectomy/fusion (60.2%). Seven patients (3.3%) were readmitted during the study period. Preoperative discharge planning was completed for 129 patients (61.7%). A shorter median LOS was seen in those with a known preoperative discharge date (67 vs 80 hours, p = 0.018) and clear discharge instructions (71 vs 81 hours, p = 0.030). Patients with a known preoperative discharge plan also reported significantly increased satisfaction (8.0 vs 7.0, p = 0.028), and patients with increased discharge readiness (scale 0–10) also reported higher satisfaction (r = 0.474, p < 0.001). Those receiving postdischarge calls (76%) had a significantly shorter LOS than those without postdischarge calls (75 vs 99 hours, p = 0.020), although no significant relationship was seen between postdischarge calls and readmission (p = 0.342).

CONCLUSIONS

The NPA-IHI program showed that preoperative discharge planning and postdischarge calls have the potential to reduce LOS and improve satisfaction after elective lumbar fusion. It is our hope that neurosurgical providers can recognize how registries can be used to both develop and implement a QI tool and appreciate the importance of QI implementation as a separate process from data collection/analysis.

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Erica F Bisson, Jian Guan, Mohamad Bydon, Mohammed A Alvi, Anshit Goyal, Steven D Glassman, Kevin T Foley, Eric A Potts, Christopher I Shaffrey, Mark E Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R Slotkin, Anthony L Asher, Michael S Virk, Andrew Y Yew, Regis W Haid, Andrew K Chan, and Praveen V Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The ideal surgical management of grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis has not been determined despite extensive prior investigations. In this cohort study, the authors used data from the large, multicenter, prospectively collected Quality Outcomes Database to bridge the gap between the findings in previous randomized trials and those in a more heterogeneous population treated in a typical practice. The objective was to assess the difference in patient-reported outcomes among patients undergoing decompression alone or decompression plus fusion.

METHODS

The primary outcome measure was change in 24-month Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores. The minimal clinically important difference (MCID) in ODI score change and 30% change in ODI score at 24 months were also evaluated. After adjusting for patient-specific and clinical factors, multivariable linear and logistic regressions were employed to evaluate the impact of fusion on outcomes. To account for differences in age, sex, body mass index, and baseline listhesis, a sensitivity analysis was performed using propensity score analysis to match patients undergoing decompression only with those undergoing decompression and fusion.

RESULTS

In total, 608 patients who had grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis were identified (85.5% with at least 24 months of follow-up); 140 (23.0%) underwent decompression alone and 468 (77.0%) underwent decompression and fusion. The 24-month change in ODI score was significantly greater in the fusion plus decompression group than in the decompression-only group (−25.8 ± 20.0 vs −15.2 ± 19.8, p < 0.001). Fusion remained independently associated with 24-month ODI score change (B = −7.05, 95% CI −10.70 to −3.39, p ≤ 0.001) in multivariable regression analysis, as well as with achieving the MCID for the ODI score (OR 1.767, 95% CI 1.058–2.944, p = 0.029) and 30% change in ODI score (OR 2.371, 95% CI 1.286–4.371, p = 0.005). Propensity score analysis resulted in 94 patients in the decompression-only group matched 1 to 1 with 94 patients in the fusion group. The addition of fusion to decompression remained a significant predictor of 24-month change in the ODI score (B = 2.796, 95% CI 2.228–13.275, p = 0.006) and of achieving the 24-month MCID ODI score (OR 2.898, 95% CI 1.214–6.914, p = 0.016) and 24-month 30% change in ODI score (OR 2.300, 95% CI 1.014–5.216, p = 0.046).

CONCLUSIONS

These results suggest that decompression plus fusion in patients with grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis may be associated with superior outcomes at 24 months compared with decompression alone, both in reduction of disability and in achieving clinically meaningful improvement. Longer-term follow-up is warranted to assess whether this effect is sustained.

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Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Jian Guan, Regis W. Haid, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The optimal minimally invasive surgery (MIS) approach for grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis is not clearly elucidated. In this study, the authors compared the 24-month patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after MIS transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) and MIS decompression for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

A total of 608 patients from 12 high-enrolling sites participating in the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) lumbar spondylolisthesis module underwent single-level surgery for degenerative grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis, of whom 143 underwent MIS (72 MIS TLIF [50.3%] and 71 MIS decompression [49.7%]). Surgeries were classified as MIS if there was utilization of percutaneous screw fixation and placement of a Wiltse plane MIS intervertebral body graft (MIS TLIF) or if there was a tubular decompression (MIS decompression). Parameters obtained at baseline through at least 24 months of follow-up were collected. PROs included the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), numeric rating scale (NRS) for back pain, NRS for leg pain, EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) questionnaire, and North American Spine Society (NASS) satisfaction questionnaire. Multivariate models were constructed to adjust for patient characteristics, surgical variables, and baseline PRO values.

RESULTS

The mean age of the MIS cohort was 67.1 ± 11.3 years (MIS TLIF 62.1 years vs MIS decompression 72.3 years) and consisted of 79 (55.2%) women (MIS TLIF 55.6% vs MIS decompression 54.9%). The proportion in each cohort reaching the 24-month follow-up did not differ significantly between the cohorts (MIS TLIF 83.3% and MIS decompression 84.5%, p = 0.85). MIS TLIF was associated with greater blood loss (mean 108.8 vs 33.0 ml, p < 0.001), longer operative time (mean 228.2 vs 101.8 minutes, p < 0.001), and longer length of hospitalization (mean 2.9 vs 0.7 days, p < 0.001). MIS TLIF was associated with a significantly lower reoperation rate (14.1% vs 1.4%, p = 0.004). Both cohorts demonstrated significant improvements in ODI, NRS back pain, NRS leg pain, and EQ-5D at 24 months (p < 0.001, all comparisons relative to baseline). In multivariate analyses, MIS TLIF—as opposed to MIS decompression alone—was associated with superior ODI change (β = −7.59, 95% CI −14.96 to −0.23; p = 0.04), NRS back pain change (β = −1.54, 95% CI −2.78 to −0.30; p = 0.02), and NASS satisfaction (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.12–0.82; p = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS

For symptomatic, single-level degenerative spondylolisthesis, MIS TLIF was associated with a lower reoperation rate and superior outcomes for disability, back pain, and patient satisfaction compared with posterior MIS decompression alone. This finding may aid surgical decision-making when considering MIS for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

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Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohamad Bydon, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Andrew K. Chan, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Jian Guan, Regis W. Haid, and Erica F. Bisson

OBJECTIVE

Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, providers and hospitals have increasingly prioritized patient-centered outcomes such as patient satisfaction in an effort to adapt the “value”-based healthcare model. In the current study, the authors queried a prospectively maintained multiinstitutional spine registry to construct a predictive model for long-term patient satisfaction among patients undergoing surgery for Meyerding grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database for patients undergoing surgery for grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2016. The primary outcome of interest for the current study was patient satisfaction as measured by the North American Spine Surgery patient satisfaction index, which is measured on a scale of 1–4, with 1 indicating most satisfied and 4 indicating least satisfied. In order to identify predictors of higher satisfaction, the authors fitted a multivariable proportional odds logistic regression model for ≥ 2 years of patient satisfaction after adjusting for an array of clinical and patient-specific factors. The absolute importance of each covariate in the model was computed using an importance metric defined as Wald chi-square penalized by the predictor degrees of freedom.

RESULTS

A total of 502 patients, out of a cohort of 608 patients (82.5%) with grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis, undergoing either 1- or 2-level decompression (22.5%, n = 113) or 1-level decompression and fusion (77.5%, n = 389), met the inclusion criteria; of these, 82.1% (n = 412) were satisfied after 2 years. On univariate analysis, satisfied patients were more likely to be employed and working (41.7%, n = 172, vs 24.4%, n = 22; overall p = 0.001), more likely to present with predominant leg pain (23.1%, n = 95, vs 11.1%, n = 10; overall p = 0.02) but more likely to present with lower Numeric Rating Scale score for leg pain (median and IQR score: 7 [5–9] vs 8 [6–9]; p = 0.05). Multivariable proportional odds logistic regression revealed that older age (OR 1.57, 95% CI 1.09–2.76; p = 0.009), preoperative active employment (OR 2.06, 95% CI 1.27–3.67; p = 0.015), and fusion surgery (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.30–4.06; p = 0.002) were the most important predictors of achieving satisfaction with surgical outcome.

CONCLUSIONS

Current findings from a large multiinstitutional study indicate that most patients undergoing surgery for grade I lumbar spondylolisthesis achieved long-term satisfaction. Moreover, the authors found that older age, preoperative active employment, and fusion surgery are associated with higher odds of achieving satisfaction.

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Anthony L. Asher, John Knightly, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Matthew J. McGirt, Yagiz U. Yolcu, Andrew K. Chan, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric A. Potts, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Regis W. Haid Jr., Kai-Ming Fu, Michael Y. Wang, Paul Park, Erica F. Bisson, Robert E. Harbaugh, and Mohamad Bydon

The Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), formerly known as the National Neurosurgery Quality Outcomes Database (N2QOD), was established by the NeuroPoint Alliance (NPA) in collaboration with relevant national stakeholders and experts. The overarching goal of this project was to develop a centralized, nationally coordinated effort to allow individual surgeons and practice groups to collect, measure, and analyze practice patterns and neurosurgical outcomes. Specific objectives of this registry program were as follows: “1) to establish risk-adjusted national benchmarks for both the safety and effectiveness of neurosurgical procedures, 2) to allow practice groups and hospitals to analyze their individual morbidity and clinical outcomes in real time, 3) to generate both quality and efficiency data to support claims made to public and private payers and objectively demonstrate the value of care to other stakeholders, 4) to demonstrate the comparative effectiveness of neurosurgical and spine procedures, 5) to develop sophisticated ‘risk models’ to determine which subpopulations of patients are most likely to benefit from specific surgical interventions, and 6) to facilitate essential multicenter trials and other cooperative clinical studies.” The NPA has launched several neurosurgical specialty modules in the QOD program in the 7 years since its inception including lumbar spine, cervical spine, and spinal deformity and cerebrovascular and intracranial tumor. The QOD Spine modules, which are the primary subject of this paper, have evolved into the largest North American spine registries yet created and have resulted in unprecedented cooperative activities within our specialty and among affiliated spine care practitioners. Herein, the authors discuss the experience of QOD Spine programs to date, with a brief description of their inception, some of the key achievements and milestones, as well as the recent transition of the spine modules to the American Spine Registry (ASR), a collaboration between the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

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Anthony L. Asher, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Erica F. Bisson, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Eric A. Potts, Mark E. Shaffrey, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Kai-Ming Fu, Clinton J. Devin, Kristin R. Archer, Silky Chotai, Andrew K. Chan, Michael S. Virk, and Mohamad Bydon

OBJECTIVE

Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) play a pivotal role in defining the value of surgical interventions for spinal disease. The concept of minimum clinically important difference (MCID) is considered the new standard for determining the effectiveness of a given treatment and describing patient satisfaction in response to that treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine the MCID associated with surgical treatment for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

The authors queried the Quality Outcomes Database registry from July 2014 through December 2015 for patients who underwent posterior lumbar surgery for grade I degenerative spondylolisthesis. Recorded PROs included scores on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EQ-5D, and numeric rating scale (NRS) for leg pain (NRS-LP) and back pain (NRS-BP). Anchor-based (using the North American Spine Society satisfaction scale) and distribution-based (half a standard deviation, small Cohen’s effect size, standard error of measurement, and minimum detectable change [MDC]) methods were used to calculate the MCID for each PRO.

RESULTS

A total of 441 patients (80 who underwent laminectomies alone and 361 who underwent fusion procedures) from 11 participating sites were included in the analysis. The changes in functional outcome scores between baseline and the 1-year postoperative evaluation were as follows: 23.5 ± 17.4 points for ODI, 0.24 ± 0.23 for EQ-5D, 4.1 ± 3.5 for NRS-LP, and 3.7 ± 3.2 for NRS-BP. The different calculation methods generated a range of MCID values for each PRO: 3.3–26.5 points for ODI, 0.04–0.3 points for EQ-5D, 0.6–4.5 points for NRS-LP, and 0.5–4.2 points for NRS-BP. The MDC approach appeared to be the most appropriate for calculating MCID because it provided a threshold greater than the measurement error and was closest to the average change difference between the satisfied and not-satisfied patients. On subgroup analysis, the MCID thresholds for laminectomy-alone patients were comparable to those for the patients who underwent arthrodesis as well as for the entire cohort.

CONCLUSIONS

The MCID for PROs was highly variable depending on the calculation technique. The MDC seems to be a statistically and clinically sound method for defining the appropriate MCID value for patients with grade I degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Based on this method, the MCID values are 14.3 points for ODI, 0.2 points for EQ-5D, 1.7 points for NRS-LP, and 1.6 points for NRS-BP.

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Andrew K. Chan, Erica F. Bisson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D. Glassman, Kevin T. Foley, Eric A. Potts, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Mark E. Shaffrey, Domagoj Coric, John J. Knightly, Paul Park, Michael Y. Wang, Kai-Ming Fu, Jonathan R. Slotkin, Anthony L. Asher, Michael S. Virk, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Silky Chotai, Anthony M. DiGiorgio, Regis W. Haid, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

The AANS launched the Quality Outcomes Database (QOD), a prospective longitudinal registry that includes demographic, clinical, and patient-reported outcome (PRO) data to measure the safety and quality of spine surgery. Registry data offer “real-world” insights into the utility of spinal fusion and decompression surgery for lumbar spondylolisthesis. Using the QOD, the authors compared the initial 12-month outcome data for patients undergoing fusion and those undergoing laminectomy alone for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis.

METHODS

Data from 12 top enrolling sites were analyzed and 426 patients undergoing elective single-level spine surgery for degenerative grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis were found. Baseline, 3-month, and 12-month follow-up data were collected and compared, including baseline clinical characteristics, readmission rates, reoperation rates, and PROs. The PROs included Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), back and leg pain numeric rating scale (NRS) scores, and EuroQol–5 Dimensions health survey (EQ-5D) results.

RESULTS

A total of 342 (80.3%) patients underwent fusion, with the remaining 84 (19.7%) undergoing decompression alone. The fusion cohort was younger (60.7 vs 69.9 years, p < 0.001), had a higher mean body mass index (31.0 vs 28.4, p < 0.001), and had a greater proportion of patients with back pain as a major component of their initial presentation (88.0% vs 60.7%, p < 0.001). There were no differences in 12-month reoperation rate (4.4% vs 6.0%, p = 0.93) and 3-month readmission rates (3.5% vs 1.2%, p = 0.45). At 12 months, both cohorts improved significantly with regard to ODI, NRS back and leg pain, and EQ-5D (p < 0.001, all comparisons). In adjusted analysis, fusion procedures were associated with superior 12-month ODI (β −4.79, 95% CI −9.28 to −0.31; p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS

Surgery for grade 1 lumbar spondylolisthesis—regardless of treatment strategy—was associated with significant improvements in disability, back and leg pain, and quality of life at 12 months. When adjusting for covariates, fusion surgery was associated with superior ODI at 12 months. Although fusion procedures were associated with a lower rate of reoperation, there was no statistically significant difference at 12 months. Further study must be undertaken to assess the durability of either surgical strategy in longer-term follow-up.