Lumbar spondylolysis occurs in approximately 6% of the population and presents with localized mechanical back pain, often in young athletes. Surgical treatment may involve decompression, lumbar intersegmental fusion, or direct repair of pars defects. Although such open procedures may effectively resolve symptoms, minimal-access approaches may additionally decrease collateral damage to soft tissues, allowing young, active patients to resume athletic activities sooner. In this study, the authors review their experience repairing bilateral lumbar spondylolyses with screw and hook constructs placed via a minimal-access approach.
Five consecutive pediatric patients with bilateral L-5 spondylolysis were treated. Bilateral incisions (2.5 cm) were made over L-5. Exposure was maintained with bilateral expandable tubular retractor systems. Pedicle screws were placed in the L-5 pedicles and attached to hooks under the L-5 laminae. A direct repair was performed at the pars defect. Clinical characteristics, operative variables, and postoperative outcomes were collected.
All 5 patients underwent surgery; 4 were male (80%) and 1 was female (20%), and the mean age was 15.8 years (range 15–17 years). The mean estimated blood loss and duration of surgery were 37 ml (range 15–75 ml) and 1.94 hours (range 1–3 hours), respectively. Postoperative hospital stays ranged from 1 to 3 days (mean 1.8 days). The only complication occurred in 1 patient who experienced minor superficial wound breakdown. All patients have experienced resolution of symptoms at this preliminary stage, which has continued over an 8-month follow-up period.
Lumbar spondylolysis can be adequately and safely treated via minimal-access surgical repair of the pars interarticularis by using pedicle screws and rod-hook constructs. This approach may decrease the collateral soft tissue damage common to open dissections, and may be ideal for young, active surgical candidates.