Posterior fixation with interbody cage placement can be accomplished via numerous techniques. In an attempt to expedite recovery by limiting muscle dissection, midline lumbar interbody fusion (MIDLIF) has been described. More recently, the authors have developed a robot-assisted MIDLIF (RA-MIDLIF) technique. The purpose of this study was to compare the index episode-of-care (iEOC) parameters between patients undergoing traditional open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (tTLIF), MIDLIF, and RA-MIDLIF.
A retrospective review of a prospective, multisurgeon surgical database was performed. Consecutive patients undergoing 1- or 2-level tTLIF, MIDLIF, or RA-MIDLIF for degenerative lumbar conditions were identified. Patients in each cohort were propensity matched based on age, sex, smoking status, BMI, diagnosis, American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) class, and number of levels fused. Index EOC parameters such as length of stay (LOS), estimated blood loss (EBL), operating room (OR) time, and actual, direct hospital costs for the index surgical visit were analyzed.
Of 281 and 249 patients undergoing tTLIF and MIDLIF, respectively, 52 cases in each cohort were successfully propensity matched to the authors’ first 55 RA-MIDLIF cases. Consistent with propensity matching, there was no significant difference in age, sex, BMI, diagnosis, ASA class, or levels fused. Spondylolisthesis was the most common indication for surgery in all cohorts. The mean total iEOC was similar across all cohorts. Patients undergoing RA-MIDLIF had a shorter average LOS (1.53 days) than those undergoing either MIDLIF (2.71 days) or tTLIF (3.58 days). Both MIDLIF and RA-MIDLIF were associated with lower EBL and less OR time compared with tTLIF.
Despite concerns for additional cost and time while introducing navigation or robotic technology, a propensity-matched comparison of the authors’ first 52 RA-MIDLIF surgeries with tTLIF and MIDLIF showed promising results for reducing OR time, EBL, and LOS without increasing cost.