In an effort to prevent loss of segmental lordosis (SL) with minimally invasive interbody fusions, manufacturers have increased the amount of lordosis that is built into interbody cages. However, the relationship between cage lordotic angle and actual SL achieved intraoperatively remains unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine if the lordotic angle manufactured into an interbody cage impacts the change in SL during minimally invasive surgery (MIS) for lumbar interbody fusion (LIF) done for degenerative pathology.
The authors performed a retrospective review of a single-surgeon database of adult patients who underwent primary LIF between April 2017 and December 2018. Procedures were performed for 1–2-level lumbar degenerative disease using contemporary MIS techniques, including transforaminal LIF (TLIF), lateral LIF (LLIF), and anterior LIF (ALIF). Surgical levels were classified on lateral radiographs based on the cage lordotic angle (6°–8°, 10°–12°, and 15°–20°) and the position of the cage in the disc space (anterior vs posterior). Change in SL was the primary outcome of interest. Subgroup analyses of the cage lordotic angle within each surgical approach were also conducted.
A total of 116 surgical levels in 98 patients were included. Surgical approaches included TLIF (56.1%), LLIF (32.7%), and ALIF (11.2%). There were no differences in SL gained by cage lordotic angle (2.7° SL gain with 6°–8° cages, 1.6° with 10°–12° cages, and 3.4° with 15°–20° cages, p = 0.581). Subgroup analysis of LLIF showed increased SL with 15° cages only (p = 0.002). The change in SL was highest after ALIF (average increase 9.8° in SL vs 1.8° in TLIF vs 1.8° in LLIF, p < 0.001). Anterior position of the cage in the disc space was also associated with a significantly greater gain in SL (4.2° vs −0.3°, p = 0.001), and was the only factor independently correlated with SL gain (p = 0.016).
Compared with cage lordotic angle, cage position and approach play larger roles in the generation of SL in 1–2-level MIS for lumbar degenerative disease.