The rising psoas sign: an analysis of preoperative imaging characteristics of aborted minimally invasive lateral interbody fusions at L4–5

Report of 3 cases

Jean-Marc VoyadzisDepartment of Neurosurgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC

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Daniel FelbaumDepartment of Neurosurgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC

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Jay RheeDepartment of Neurosurgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC

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Minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion for the treatment of degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, or scoliosis is becoming increasingly popular. The approach at L4–5 carries the highest risk of nerve injury given the proximity of the lumbar plexus and femoral nerve. The authors present 3 cases that were aborted during the approach because of pervasive electromyography responses throughout the L4–5 disc space. Preoperative imaging characteristics of psoas muscle anatomy in all 3 cases are analyzed and discussed. In all cases, the psoas muscle on axial views was rising away from the vertebral column as opposed to its typical location lateral to it. Preoperative evaluation of psoas muscle anatomy is important. A rising psoas muscle at L4–5 on axial imaging may complicate a lateral approach.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

EMG = electromyography; TLIF = transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion.
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