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Yasuchika Aoki, Masatsune Yamagata, Yoshikazu Ikeda, Fumitake Nakajima, Seiji Ohtori, Koichi Nakagawa, Arata Nakajima, Tomoaki Toyone, Sumihisa Orita and Kazuhisa Takahashi

Object

Many surgeons currently prefer to use transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), placing 1 unilateral pedicle screw (PS) and 1 cage. However, no study has examined whether unilateral fixation improves surgical outcome. The authors conducted a prospective randomized controlled trial with a minimum 2-year follow-up to analyze TLIF outcomes for 2 techniques: placement of a unilateral PS and a cage compared with placement of bilateral PSs and 2 cages.

Methods

Fifty patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis undergoing single-level TLIF were randomly assigned to receive either unilateral or bilateral fixation. Parameters compared between the groups were surgical invasiveness, severity of intermittent claudication, pre- and postoperative visual analog scale (VAS) scores (from 0 to 10 for back pain, lower-extremity pain, and lower-extremity numbness), postoperative disability scores for lumbar spinal disorders (Japanese Orthopaedic Association Back Pain Evaluation Questionnaire [JOABPEQ]), and fusion rates.

Results

The mean operative time for TLIF was significantly (p = 0.05) shorter and mean estimated blood loss was significantly lower in the unilateral than in the bilateral group. Intermittent claudication improved in response to each technique, but there was no significant intergroup difference. The unilateral group had a nonsignificant tendency toward less improvement in VAS score for back pain (1.5 vs 3.7 for the bilateral group) and exhibited significantly less improvement in VAS score for lower-extremity pain (2.1 vs 5.1, respectively) and numbness (1.7 vs 4.4). There were no significant differences between the groups in postsurgical scores for all 5 items of the JOABPEQ. The fusion rates were 87.5% (21 of 24 patients) in the unilateral group and 95.7% (22 of 23) in the bilateral group.

Conclusions

Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion involving unilateral PS fixation and a single-cage technique is less invasive than a 2-cage technique and bilateral fixation, and it improved patients' symptoms. However, it resulted in less improvement in back pain, lower-extremity pain, and lower-extremity numbness. When considering unilateral PS fixation and a single cage, the surgeon should be aware of the potential limitations of this technique. Clinical trial registration no.: UMIN000007833 (UMIN).

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Gen Inoue, Masaki Ueno, Toshiyuki Nakazawa, Takayuki Imura, Wataru Saito, Kentaro Uchida, Seiji Ohtori, Tomoaki Toyone, Naonobu Takahira and Masashi Takaso

Object

The object of this study was to examine the efficacy of preoperative teriparatide treatment for increasing the insertional torque of pedicle screws during fusion surgery in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.

Methods

Fusion surgery for the thoracic and/or lumbar spine was performed in 29 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis aged 65–82 years (mean 72.2 years). The patients were divided into 2 groups based on whether they were treated with teriparatide (n = 13) or not (n = 16) before the surgery. In the teriparatide-treated group, patients received preoperative teriparatide therapy as either a daily (20 μg/day, n = 7) or a weekly (56.5 μg/week, n = 6) injection for a mean of 61.4 days and a minimum of 31 days. During surgery, the insertional torque was measured in 212 screws inserted from T-7 to L-5 and compared between the 2 groups. The correlation between the insertional torque and the duration of preoperative teriparatide treatment was also investigated.

Results

The mean insertional torque value in the teriparatide group was 1.28 ± 0.42 Nm, which was significantly higher than in the control group (1.08 ± 0.52 Nm, p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the daily and the weekly teriparatide groups with respect to mean insertional torque value (1.34 ± 0.50 Nm and 1.18 ± 0.43 Nm, respectively, p = 0.07). There was negligible correlation between insertional torque and duration of preoperative teriparatide treatment (r2 = 0.05, p < 0.01).

Conclusions

Teriparatide injections beginning at least 1 month prior to surgery were effective in increasing the insertional torque of pedicle screws during surgery in patients with postmenopausal osteoporosis. Preoperative teriparatide treatment might be an option for maximizing the purchase of the pedicle screws to the bone at the time of fusion surgery.

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Yasuchika Aoki, Masatsune Yamagata, Fumitake Nakajima, Yoshikazu Ikeda, Koh Shimizu, Masakazu Yoshihara, Junichi Iwasaki, Tomoaki Toyone, Koichi Nakagawa, Arata Nakajima, Kazuhisa Takahashi and Seiji Ohtori

Object

Because the authors encountered 4 cases of hardware migration following transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, a retrospective study was conducted to identify factors influencing the posterior migration of fusion cages.

Methods

Patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (125 individuals; 144 disc levels) were treated using transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion and followed for 12–33 months. Medical records and pre- and postoperative radiographs were reviewed, and factors influencing the incidence of cage migration were analyzed.

Results

Postoperative cage migration was found in 4 patients at or before 3 months. Because all the cages that migrated postoperatively were bullet-shaped (Capstone), only these cages were analyzed. The analysis of preoperative radiographs revealed that higher posterior disc height ([PDH] ≥ 6 mm) significantly increased the incidence of postoperative cage migration, but percent slippage, translation, range of motion, and Cobb angle did not. The incidence of cage migration in patients with unilateral fixation (3 [8.3%] of 36) was not significantly different from that in patients with bilateral fixation (1 [2.1%] of 48). Patients who had scoliotic curvature with a Cobb angle > 10° when treated with unilateral fixation demonstrated a tendency to have more frequent postoperative cage migration than patients treated with bilateral fixation.

To examine the influence of the height of fusion cages, a value obtained by subtracting preoperative anterior disc height (ADH) or PDH from cage height was defined as “Cage height – ADH” (or “Cage height –PDH”). The analysis revealed that the value for “Cage height –ADH” as well as “Cage height –PDH” was significantly lower in migrated levels than in nonmigrated levels, suggesting that the choice of undersized cages may increase the incidence of cage migration.

Conclusions

The results suggest that the use of a bullet-shaped cage, higher PDH, the presence of scoliotic curvature, and undersized fusion cages are possible risk factors for cage migration. One patient with postoperative cage migration following bilateral screw fixation underwent revision surgery, and the pedicle screw fixation was found to be disrupted. Other than in this patient, cage migration occurred only in those treated by unilateral fixation. The potential for postoperative cage migration and limitations of unilateral fixation should be considered by spine surgeons.