Whereas the benefits of indirect decompression after lateral lumbar interbody fusion are well known, the effects of anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) have not yet been verified. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical and radiological effects of indirect decompression after ALIF for central spinal canal stenosis. In this report, along with the many advantages of the anterior approach, the authors share cases with good outcomes that they have encountered.
The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 64 consecutive patients who underwent ALIF for central spinal canal stenosis with instability and mixed foraminal stenosis between January 2015 and December 2018 at their hospital. Clinical assessments were performed using the visual analog scale score, the Oswestry Disability Index, and the modified Macnab criteria. The radiographic parameters were determined from pre- and postoperative cross-sectional MRI scans of the spinal canal and were compared to evaluate neural decompression after ALIF. The average follow-up period was 23.3 ± 1.3 months.
All clinical parameters, including the visual analog scale score, Oswestry Disability Index, and modified Macnab criteria, improved significantly. The mean operative duration was 254.8 ± 60.8 minutes, and the intraoperative bleeding volume was 179.8 ± 119.3 ml. In the radiological evaluation, radiological parameters of the cross-sections of the spinal canal showed substantial development. The spinal canal size improved by an average of 43.3% (p < 0.001) after surgery. No major complications occurred; however, aspiration guided by ultrasonography was performed in 2 patients because of a pseudocyst and fluid collection.
ALIF can serve as a suitable alternative to extensive posterior approaches. The authors suggest that ALIF can be used for decompression in central spinal canal stenosis as well as restoration of the foraminal dimensions, thus allowing decompression of the nerve roots.