The development of symptomatic adjacent-segment disease (ASD) is a well-recognized consequence of lumbar fusion surgery. Extension of a fusion to a diseased segment may only lead to subsequent adjacent-segment degeneration. The authors report the use of a novel technique that uses dynamic stabilization instead of arthrodesis for the surgical treatment of symptomatic ASD following a prior lumbar instrumented fusion.
A cohort of 28 consecutive patients was evaluated who developed symptomatic stenosis immediately adjacent to a previous lumbar instrumented fusion. All patients had symptoms of neurogenic claudication refractory to nonsurgical treatment and were surgically treated with decompression and dynamic stabilization instead of extending the fusion construct using a posterior lumbar dynamic stabilization system. Preoperative symptoms, visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores, and perioperative complications were recorded. Clinical outcome was gauged by comparing VAS scores prior to surgery and at the time of last follow-up.
The mean follow-up duration was 52 months (range 17–94 months). The mean interval from the time of primary fusion surgery to the dynamic stabilization surgery was 40 months (range 10–96 months). The mean patient age was 51 years (range 29–76 years). There were 19 (68%) men and 9 (32%) women. Twenty-three patients (82%) presented with low-back pain at time of surgery, whereas 24 patients (86%) presented with lower-extremity symptoms only. Twenty-four patients (86%) underwent operations that were performed using single-level dynamic stabilization, 3 patients (11%) were treated at 2 levels, and 1 patient underwent 3-level decompression and dynamic stabilization. The most commonly affected and treated level (46%) was L3–4. The mean preoperative VAS pain score was 8, whereas the mean postoperative score was 3. No patient required surgery for symptomatic degeneration rostral to the level of dynamic stabilization during the follow-up period.
The use of posterior lumbar dynamic stabilization may offer a valid and safe option for the management of patients who develop ASD rostral to a previously instrumented arthrodesis. The technique may serve as an alternative to multilevel arthrodesis in this patient population. By implanting a dynamic stabilization device instead of an extension of a rigid construct, this might translate into a reduction in the development of yet another level of ASD.