Risk factors for adjacent-segment failure following lumbar fixation with rigid instrumentation for degenerative instability

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  • 1 Division of Neurological Surgery, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida
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Object. The authors performed a retrospective analysis of 125 consecutive patients in whom instrumentation was placed to promote lumbar fusion for the treatment of degenerative instability. All procedures were performed by a single surgeon. The authors sought to determine the risk factors for next-segment degeneration after lumbar spinal fusion with rigid instrumentation.

Methods. Thirty-one of 125 fusion procedures were performed in women who were postmenopausal. A total of 18 of 125 patients developed symptomatic next-segment degeneration at a previously asymptomatic level; 15 were postmenopausal women. Data were obtained in patients with next-segment failure based on radiographic studies, neurological assessment, demographic factors, and sequential follow-up examinations. The mean follow-up period for this group was 44.8 months. All women were postmenopausal, and 53% received biphosphonate drugs and calcium supplementation preoperatively for osteopenia. Twenty percent of all patients with next-segment failure were cigarette smokers. Next-segment diseases included spondylolisthesis (39%), spinal canal stenosis due to disc herniation and/or facet hypertrophy (33%), stress fracture of the adjacent vertebral body (28%), and scoliosis (17%). Patients frequently had more than one degenerative process at the next segment.

Conclusions. The risk of adjacent-segment failure is clearly higher for patients in whom lumbar fusion with rigid instrumentation is performed to treat degenerative instability. This risk appears to be especially high in postmenopausal women.

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