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Jinping Liu, Pingguo Duan, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Rong Xie, Bo Li, Yinhui Dong, Sigurd Berven, and Dean Chou

OBJECTIVE

Conflicting reports exist about whether transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) induces lordosis or kyphosis, ranging from decreasing lordosis by 3.71° to increasing it by 18.8°. In this study, the authors’ aim was to identify factors that result in kyphosis or lordosis after TLIF.

METHODS

A single-center, retrospective study of open TLIF without osteotomy for spondylolisthesis with a minimum 2-year follow-up was undertaken. Preoperative and postoperative clinical and radiographic parameters and cage specifics were collected. TLIFs were considered to be “lordosing” if postoperative induction of lordosis was > 0° and “kyphosing” if postoperative induction of lordosis was ≤ 0°.

RESULTS

A total of 137 patients with an average follow-up of 52.5 months (range 24–130 months) were included. The overall postoperative disc angle (DA) and segmental lordosis (SL) increased by 1.96° and 1.88° (p = 0.003 and p = 0.038), respectively, whereas overall lumbar lordosis remained unchanged (p = 0.133). Seventy-nine patients had lordosing TLIFs with a mean SL increase of 5.72° ± 3.97°, and 58 patients had kyphosing TLIFs with a mean decrease of 3.02° ± 2.98°. Multivariate analysis showed that a lower preoperative DA, lower preoperative SL, and anterior cage placement were correlated with the greatest increase in postoperative SL (p = 0.040, p < 0.001, and p = 0.035, respectively). There was no difference in demographics, cage type or height, or spinopelvic parameters between the groups (p > 0.05). Linear regression showed that the preoperative DA and SL correlated with SL after TLIF (R2 = 0.198, p < 0.001; and R2 = 0.2931, p < 0.001, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS

Whether a TLIF induces kyphosis or lordosis depends on the preoperative DA, preoperative SL, and cage position. Less-lordotic segments became more lordotic postoperatively, and highly lordotic segments may lose lordosis after TLIF. Cages placed more anteriorly were associated with more lordosis.