A systematic review concerning surgical management of lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS) showed that a satisfactory clinical outcome was significantly more likely with adjunctive spinal fusion than with decompression alone. However, the role of adjunctive fusion and the optimal type of fusion remain controversial. Therefore, operative management for multilevel DS raises more complicated issues. The purpose of this retrospective study was to elucidate clinical and radiological outcomes after 2-level PLIF for 2-level DS with the least bias in determination of operative procedure.
Since 2005, all patients surgically treated for lumbar DS at the authors' hospital have been treated using posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with pedicle screws, irrespective of severity of slippage, patient age, or bone quality. The authors conducted a retrospective review of 20 consecutive cases involving patients who underwent 2-level PLIF for 2-level DS and had been followed up for 2 years or longer (2-level PLIF group). They also analyzed data from 92 consecutive cases involving patients who underwent single-level PLIF for single-level DS during the same time period and had been followed for at least 2 years (1-level PLIF group). This second group served as a control. Clinical status was assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score. Fusion status and sagittal alignment of the lumbar spine were assessed by comparing serial plain radiographs. Surgery-related complications and the need for additional surgery were evaluated.
The mean JOA score improved significantly from 12.8 points before surgery to 20.4 points at the latest follow-up in the 2-level PLIF group (mean recovery rate 51.8%), and from 14.2 points preoperatively to 22.5 points at the latest follow-up in the single-level PLIF group (mean recovery rate 55.3%). At the final follow-up, 95.0% of patients in the 2-level PLIF group and 96.7% of those in the 1-level PLIF group had achieved solid spinal fusion, and the mean sagittal alignment of the lumbar spine was more lordotic than before surgery in both groups. Early surgery-related complications, including transient neurological complications, occurred in 6 patients in the 2-level PLIF group (30.0%) and 11 patients in the 1-level PLIF group (12.0%). Symptomatic adjacent-segment disease was found in 4 patients in the 2-level PLIF group (20.0%) and 10 patients in the 1-level PLIF group (10.9%).
The clinical outcome of 2-level PLIF for 2-level lumbar DS was satisfactory, although surgery-related complications including symptomatic adjacent-segment disease were not negligible.