Minimally invasive anterior and lateral approaches to the lumbar spine are increasingly used to treat and reduce grade I spondylolisthesis, but concerns still exist for their usage in the management of higher-grade lesions. The authors report their experience with this strategy for grade II spondylolisthesis in a single-surgeon case series and provide early clinical and radiographic outcomes.
A retrospective review of a single surgeon’s cases between 2012 and 2016 identified all patients with a Meyerding grade II lumbar spondylolisthesis who underwent minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) or anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) targeting the slipped level. Demographic, clinical, and radiographic data were collected and analyzed. Changes in radiographic measurements, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and visual analog scale (VAS) scores were compared using the paired t-test and Wilcoxon signed rank test for continuous and ordinal variables, respectively.
The average operative time was 199.1 minutes (with 60.6 ml of estimated blood loss) for LLIFs and 282.1 minutes (with 106.3 ml of estimated blood loss), for ALIFs. Three LLIF patients had transient unilateral anterior thigh numbness during the 1st week after surgery, and 1 ALIF patient had transient dorsiflexion weakness, which was resolved at postoperative week 1. The mean follow-up time was 17.6 months (SD 12.5 months) for LLIF patients and 10 months (SD 3.1 months) for ALIF patients. Complete reduction of the spondylolisthesis was achieved in 12 LLIF patients (75.0%) and 7 ALIF patients (87.5%). Across both procedures, there was an increase in both the segmental lordosis (LLIF 5.6°, p = 0.002; ALIF 15.0°, p = 0.002) and overall lumbar lordosis (LLIF 2.9°, p = 0.151; ALIF 5.1°, p = 0.006) after surgery. Statistically significant decreases in the mean VAS and the mean ODI measurements were seen in both treatment groups. The VAS and ODI scores fell by a mean value of 3.9 (p = 0.002) and 19.8 (p = 0.001), respectively, for LLIF patients and 3.8 (p = 0.02) and 21.0 (p = 0.03), respectively, for ALIF patients at last follow-up.
Early clinical and radiographic results from using minimally invasive LLIF and ALIF approaches to treat grade II spondylolisthesis appear to be good, with low operative blood loss and no neurological deficits. Complete reduction of the spondylolisthesis is frequently possible with a statistically significant reduction in pain scores.