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Josha Woodward, Hani Malone, Christopher D. Witiw, John Paul G. Kolcun, Lacin Koro, Kevin C. Keegan, Shahjehan Ahmad, Mena G. Kerolus, Brian T. David, R. David Fessler, and Richard G. Fessler


The goal of this study was to evaluate the clinical and radiographic outcomes of a novel multidirectional in situ expandable minimally invasive surgery (MIS) transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) cage.


A retrospective analysis of 69 consecutive patients undergoing a 1- or 2-level MIS TLIF using an expandable cage was performed over a 2-year period. Standard MIS techniques with pedicle screw fixation were used in all cases. Upright lateral dynamic flexion/extension radiographs were reviewed prior to and at 1 year after surgery. Clinical metrics included numeric rating scale for back and leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index, and the SF-12 and VR-12 physical and mental health surveys. Radiographic parameters included anterior and posterior disc height, neuroforaminal height, spondylolisthesis, segmental lordosis, lumbar lordosis, and fusion rate.


A total of 69 patients representing 75 operative levels met study inclusion criteria. The mean patient age at surgery was 63.4 ± 1.2 years, with a female predominance of 51%. The average radiographic and clinical follow-ups were 372 and 368 days, respectively. A total of 63 patients (91%) underwent 1-level surgery and 6 patients (9%) underwent 2-level surgery. Significant reductions of numeric rating scale scores for back and leg pain were observed—from 6.1 ± 0.7 to 2.5 ± 0.3 (p < 0.0001) and 4.9 ± 0.6 to 1.9 ± 0.2 (p < 0.0001), respectively. A similar reduction in Oswestry Disability Index from 38.0 ± 4.6 to 20.0 ± 2.3 (p < 0.0001) was noted. Likewise, SF-12 and VR-12 scores all showed statistically significant improvement from baseline (p < 0.001). The mean anterior and posterior disc heights improved from 8.7 ± 1.0 mm to 13.4 ± 1.5 mm (p = 0.0001) and 6.5 ± 0.8 mm to 9.6 ± 1.1 mm (p = 0.0001), respectively. Neuroforaminal height improved from 17.6 ± 2.0 mm to 21.9 ± 2.5 mm (p = 0.0001). When present, spondylolisthesis was, on average, reduced from 4.3 ± 0.5 mm to 1.9 ± 0.2 mm (p = 0.0001). Lumbar lordosis improved from 47.8° ± 5.5° to 58.5° ± 6.8° (p = 0.2687), and no significant change in segmental lordosis was observed. The overall rate of radiographic fusion was 93.3% at 1 year. No perioperative complications requiring operative revision were encountered.


In this series of MIS TLIFs, use of this novel interbody cage was shown to be safe and effective. Significant improvements in pain and disability were observed. Effective and durable restoration of disc height and neuroforaminal height and reduction of spondylolisthesis were obtained, with concurrent gains in lumbar lordosis. Taken together, this device offers excellent clinical and radiographic outcomes via an MIS approach.

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David J. Moller, Nicholas P. Slimack, Frank L. Acosta Jr., Tyler R. Koski, Richard G. Fessler, and John C. Liu


Recently, the minimally invasive, lateral retroperitoneal, transpsoas approach to the thoracolumbar spinal column has been described by various authors. This is known as the minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion. The purpose of this study is to elucidate the approach-related morbidity associated with the minimally invasive transpsoas approach to the lumbar spine. To date, there have been only a couple of reports regarding the morbidity of the transpsoas muscle approach.


A nonrandomized, prospective study utilizing a self-reported patient questionnaire was conducted between January 2006 and June 2008 at Northwestern University. Data were collected in 53 patients with a follow-up period ranging from 6 months to 3.5 years. Only 2 patients were lost to follow-up.


Thirty-six percent (19 of 53) of patients reported subjective hip flexor weakness, 25% (13 of 53) anterior thigh numbness, and 23% (12 of 53) anterior thigh pain. However, 84% of the 19 patients reported complete resolution of their subjective hip flexor weakness by 6 months, and most experienced improved strength by 8 weeks. Of those reporting anterior thigh numbness and pain, 69% and 75% improved to their baseline function by the 6-month follow-up evaluations, respectively. All patients with self-reported subjective hip flexor weakness underwent examinations during subsequent clinic visits after surgery; however, these examinations did not confirm a motor deficit less than Grade 5. Subset analysis showed that the L3–4 and L4–5 levels were most often affected.


The minimally invasive, transpsoas muscle approach to the lumbar spine has a number of advantages. The data show that a percentage of the patients undergoing the transpsoas approach will have temporary sensory and motor symptoms related to this approach. The majority of the symptoms are thought to be related to psoas muscle inflammation and/or stretch injury to the genitofemoral nerve due to the surgical corridor traversed during the operation. No major injuries to the lumbar plexus were encountered. It is important to educate patients prior to surgery of the possibility of these largely transient symptoms.

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Juan S. Uribe, Armen R. Deukmedjian, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Kai-Ming G. Fu, Gregory M. Mundis Jr., David O. Okonkwo, Adam S. Kanter, Robert Eastlack, Michael Y. Wang, Neel Anand, Richard G. Fessler, Frank La Marca, Paul Park, Virginie Lafage, Vedat Deviren, Shay Bess, and Christopher I. Shaffrey


It is hypothesized that minimally invasive surgical techniques lead to fewer complications than open surgery for adult spinal deformity (ASD). The goal of this study was to analyze matched patient cohorts in an attempt to isolate the impact of approach on adverse events.


Two multicenter databases queried for patients with ASD treated via surgery and at least 1 year of follow-up revealed 280 patients who had undergone minimally invasive surgery (MIS) or a hybrid procedure (HYB; n = 85) or open surgery (OPEN; n = 195). These patients were divided into 3 separate groups based on the approach performed and were propensity matched for age, preoperative sagittal vertebral axis (SVA), number of levels fused posteriorly, and lumbar coronal Cobb angle (CCA) in an attempt to neutralize these patient variables and to make conclusions based on approach only. Inclusion criteria for both databases were similar, and inclusion criteria specific to this study consisted of an age > 45 years, CCA > 20°, 3 or more levels of fusion, and minimum of 1 year of follow-up. Patients in the OPEN group with a thoracic CCA > 75° were excluded to further ensure a more homogeneous patient population.


In all, 60 matched patients were available for analysis (MIS = 20, HYB = 20, OPEN = 20). Blood loss was less in the MIS group than in the HYB and OPEN groups, but a significant difference was only found between the MIS and the OPEN group (669 vs 2322 ml, p = 0.001). The MIS and HYB groups had more fused interbody levels (4.5 and 4.1, respectively) than the OPEN group (1.6, p < 0.001). The OPEN group had less operative time than either the MIS or HYB group, but it was only statistically different from the HYB group (367 vs 665 minutes, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the duration of hospital stay among the groups. In patients with complete data, the overall complication rate was 45.5% (25 of 55). There was no significant difference in the total complication rate among the MIS, HYB, and OPEN groups (30%, 47%, and 63%, respectively; p = 0.147). No intraoperative complications were reported for the MIS group, 5.3% for the HYB group, and 25% for the OPEN group (p < 0.03). At least one postoperative complication occurred in 30%, 47%, and 50% (p = 0.40) of the MIS, HYB, and OPEN groups, respectively. One major complication occurred in 30%, 47%, and 63% (p = 0.147) of the MIS, HYB, and OPEN groups, respectively. All patients had significant improvement in both the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and visual analog scale scores after surgery (p < 0.001), although the MIS group did not have significant improvement in leg pain. The occurrence of complications had no impact on the ODI.


Results in this study suggest that the surgical approach may impact complications. The MIS group had significantly fewer intraoperative complications than did either the HYB or OPEN groups. If the goals of ASD surgery can be achieved, consideration should be given to less invasive techniques.