The health care costs for instrumented spine surgery have increased dramatically in the last few decades. The authors present a novel noninstrumented surgical approach for patients with isthmic spondylolisthesis, with clinical and radiographic results.
Charts of patients who underwent this technique were reviewed. The procedure consisted of nerve root decompression by reconstruction of the intervertebral foramen. This was achieved by removal of the pedicle followed by noninstrumented posterolateral fusion in which autologous bone graft from the right iliac crest was used. Outcomes regarding radicular complaints, bony fusion, progression of the slip, and complications were evaluated using patient history and radiographs obtained at follow-up intervals of 3–18 months after surgery.
A total of 58 patients with a mean age of 47 years were treated with this method. Partial removal of the pedicle was performed in 93.1% of the cases, whereas in 6.9% of the cases the entire pedicle was removed. The mean duration of surgery was 216.5 ± 54.5 minutes (range 91–340 minutes). The mean (± SD) duration of hospitalization was 10.1 ± 2.9 days (range 5–18 days).
After 3 months of follow-up, 86% of the patients reported no leg pain, and this dropped to 81% at last follow-up. Radiographic follow-up showed bony fusion in 87.7% of the patients. At 1 year, 5 patients showed progression of the slip, which in 1 patient prompted a second operation within 1 year. No major complications occurred.
Treatment of isthmic spondylolisthesis by reconstruction of the intervertebral neuroforamen and posterolateral fusion in situ is a safe procedure and has comparable results with the existing techniques. Cost-effectiveness research comparing this technique to conventional instrumented fusion techniques is necessary to evaluate the merits for both patients and society.