Utility of a fulcrum for positioning support during flexion-extension radiographs for assessment of lumbar instability in patients with degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis

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  • 1 Department of Orthopedics and
  • | 2 Department of Radiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, Suzhou, China
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OBJECTIVE

The authors investigated a new standardized technique for evaluating lumbar stability in lumbar lateral flexion-extension (LFE) radiographs. For patients with lumbar spondylolisthesis, a three-part fulcrum with a support platform that included a semiarc leaning tool with armrests, a lifting platform for height adjustment, and a base for stability were used. Standard functional radiographs were used for comparison to determine whether adequate flexion-extension was acquired through use of the fulcrum method.

METHODS

A total of 67 consecutive patients diagnosed with L4–5 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis were enrolled in the study. The authors analyzed LFE radiographs taken with the patient supported by a fulcrum (LFEF) and without a fulcrum. Sagittal translation (ST), segmental angulation (SA), posterior opening (PO), change in lumbar lordosis (CLL), and lumbar instability (LI) were measured for comparison using functional radiographs.

RESULTS

The average value of SA was 5.76° ± 3.72° in LFE and 9.96° ± 4.00° in LFEF radiographs, with a significant difference between them (p < 0.05). ST and PO were also significantly greater in LFEF than in LFE. The detection rate of instability was 10.4% in LFE and 31.3% in LFEF, and the difference was significant. The CLL was 27.31° ± 11.96° in LFE and 37.07° ± 12.963.16° in LFEF, with a significant difference between these values (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with traditional LFE radiographs, the LFEF radiographs significantly improved the detection rate of LI. In addition, this method may reduce patient discomfort during the process of obtaining radiographs.

ABBREVIATIONS

CLL = change in LL; DLS = degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis; LFE = lateral flexion-extension; LFEF = LFE with fulcrum; LI = lumbar instability; LL = lumbar lordosis; PO = posterior opening; SA = segmental angulation; ST = sagittal translation.

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