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1.  Comparison of low back fusion techniques: transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) or posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) approaches 
The authors review and compare posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). A review of the literature is performed wherein the history, indications for surgery, surgical procedures with their respective biomechanical advantages, potential complications, and grafting substances are presented. Along with the technical advancements and improvements in grafting substances, the indications and use of PLIF and TLIF have increased. The rate of arthrodesis has been shown to increase given placement of bone graft along the weight-bearing axis. The fusion rate across the disc space is further enhanced with the placement of posterior pedicle screw–rod constructs and the application of an osteoinductive material. The chief advantages of the TLIF procedure compared with the PLIF procedure included a decrease in potential neurological injury, improvement in lordotic alignment given graft placement within the anterior column, and preservation of posterior column integrity through minimizing lamina, facet, and pars dissection.
PMCID: PMC2697340  PMID: 19468868
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion; Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion; Degenerative disc disease; Low back pain; History; Fusion; Complications
2.  Comparison of low back fusion techniques: transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) or posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) approaches 
The authors review and compare posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF). A review of the literature is performed wherein the history, indications for surgery, surgical procedures with their respective biomechanical advantages, potential complications, and grafting substances are presented. Along with the technical advancements and improvements in grafting substances, the indications and use of PLIF and TLIF have increased. The rate of arthrodesis has been shown to increase given placement of bone graft along the weight-bearing axis. The fusion rate across the disc space is further enhanced with the placement of posterior pedicle screw–rod constructs and the application of an osteoinductive material. The chief advantages of the TLIF procedure compared with the PLIF procedure included a decrease in potential neurological injury, improvement in lordotic alignment given graft placement within the anterior column, and preservation of posterior column integrity through minimizing lamina, facet, and pars dissection.
PMCID: PMC2697340  PMID: 19468868
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion; Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion; Degenerative disc disease; Low back pain; History; Fusion; Complications
3.  Posterior lumbar interbody fusion versus posterolateral fusion in spondylolisthesis: a prospective controlled study in the Han nationality 
International Orthopaedics  2008;33(4):1043-1047.
In this prospective study, our aim was to compare the clinical outcome of posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and posterolateral fusion (PLF) in spondylolisthesis. A total of 138 patients with spondylolisthesis were randomly assigned to two groups: those operated on with pedicle screw fixation and posterior lumbar interbody fusion by autografting (PLIF), and those operated on with pedicle screw fixation and posterolateral fusion by autografting (PLF). The patients were followed-up for four years. Clinical evaluation was carried out using the Oswestry disability index (ODI) and pain index (VAS). Radiography was performed preoperatively and postoperatively to assess the fusion. Both surgical procedures were effective, but the PLF group showed more complications related to hardware biomechanics. There was no significant statistical difference in clinical and functional outcome in the two groups. The PLIF group presented a better fusion rate than the PLF group.
PMCID: PMC2898976  PMID: 18521599
4.  Comparative study of PILF and TLIF treatment in adult degenerative spondylolisthesis 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(10):1311-1316.
This study is to compare the therapeutic effect of posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) with pedicle screw fixation on treatment in adult degenerative spondylolisthesis. A retrospective analysis of 187 patients to compare the complications and associated predictive factors of the two techniques of one level lumbar fusion. Ninety-one had PLIF with two cages and pedicle fixation (group 1), and ninety-six had TLIF with one cage and pedicle fixation (group 2). The two groups had similar age and sex distribution, and level of pain. Inclusion criteria and outcome measurements were identical in both groups. The two groups were operated on with autograft and cage with pedicle fixation. Before surgery and at the 2-year follow-up, pain (VAS) and functional disability (JOA) were quantified. The results showed there were no intraoperative deaths in our study. In the end 176 cases had 2-year follow-up while 11 cases were lost to follow-up. The follow-up rate was 93.4% (85/91) in the PLIF group and 94.8% (91/96) in the TLIF group. All patients had bone fusion, and there were no cases of cage extrusion. The pain index improved from 7.08 ± 1.13 to 2.84 ± 0.89 in PLIF patients and improved from 7.18 ± 1.09 to 2.84 ± 0.91 in TLIF patients (P < 0.001). There were 42 cases of excellent, 29 cases of good, 11 cases of general, and 3 cases of poor results in PLIF group. There were 46 cases of excellent, 31 case of good, 12 case of general, and 2 cases of poor results in TLIF group. The JOA score in all patients was 84.1% of good or excellent (83.5% in PLIF and 84.6% in TLIF, P > 0.05). The average preoperative slip was 30.1 ± 7.2% in PLIF group while in the TLIF it was 31.4 ± 8.3%. Immediately post operatively it was reduced to 7.3 ± 2.1% and 7.4 ± 2.7% and at last F/U it was 8.1 ± 2.8% and 8.2 ± 2.6%, respectively. The average of reduction rate was 75.2 ± 6.4% in PLIF and 75.4 ± 6.2 in TLIF on the initial post operatively X-ray, and 72.6 ± 5.2% and 72.4 ± 5.4% on the follow-up. The percentage rate, reduction rate and lost of reduction rate between the two groups was similar (P > 0.05). The average pre operative disk and foramen height in the PLIF group improved from 6.8 ± 2.3 and 14.2 ± 1.7 preoperatively to 11.6 ± 1.5 and 18.7 ± 1.8 post operatively, respectively. At last follow up there was minimal lost of correction down to 11.24 ± 1.2 and 18.1 ± 1.8, respectively. Similarly in the TLIF group, pre operative disk and foramen height were improved from 6.7 ± 1.7 and 14.1 ± 1.8 to 11.4 ± 1.6 and 18.5 ± 1.6 immediately post operative. At last follow up minimal lost of correction was noted with average disc height of 11.3 ± 1.4 and 18.2 ± 1.7. Both techniques achieve statistical significance in restoration of disc and foraminal (P < 0.01); however, there was no statistical difference between the two techniques. In conclusion, interbody fusion with either a PLIF technique or a TLIF technique provides good outcomes in the treatment of adult degenerative spondylolisthesis. The TLIF procedure is simpler and is as safe and effective as the PLIF technique.
PMCID: PMC2556474  PMID: 18685873
Spondyolisthesis; Interverterbral fusion; Internal fixation
5.  Outcome of instrumented lumbar fusion for low grade spondylolisthesis; Evaluation of interbody fusion with & without cages 
Asian Journal of Neurosurgery  2010;5(1):41-47.
The aim is to evalute the outcome of posterior lumbar interbody fusion with autologous bone graft versus titanium Cages, BAK system (Bagby – Kuslich, Spine Tech, Inc. Minneapolis, MN) for low grade spondyloisthesis (Grade1,11). Interbody cages have been developed to replace tricortical Interbody grafts in posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) procedures. The cages provide immediate post operative stability and facilitate bony union with cancellous bone packed in the cage itself.
We Evaluated 50 consecutive patients in whom surgery was performed between June 2000 to June 2003 in the Main Alexandria University Hospital at EGYPT. Twenty five patients were operated using autologous bone graft and 25 patients using the BAK cages. The neuro–radiologic al work up consisted of; plain X – ray lumbosacral spine including dynamic films preoperative and postoperative follow up; C.T lumbosacral spine and MRI lumbosacral spine.
The surgery was performed at L4-5 level in 34 cases and at L5-S1 level in 16 cases. The median follow up was 15 months.
Satisfactory fusion was obtained at all levels at a minimum one year follow – up. The fusion rate was 96% (24 patients) for the cage group and 80% (20 patients) for bone graft group however clinical improvement was 64% (16 patients) for those with bone graft group.
A higher fusion rates and a better clinical outcome have been obtained by Instrumented PLIF with titanium cages that with bone graft.
Inderbody fusion cages help to stabilize spainal segment primarily by distracting them as well as by allowing bone ingrowth and fusion. The procedure is safe and effective with 96% fusion rate and 76% overall Satisfactory rate.
The use of cages help to distract the space between the vertebral bodies making the correction of the degree of spondylolisthesis easier.
Long term follow up revealed better fusion rate and better realignment and less resorption with cages than with bone grafts.
PMCID: PMC3198657  PMID: 22028742
6.  Assessment of bone graft incorporation by 18 F-fluoride positron-emission tomography/computed tomography in patients with persisting symptoms after posterior lumbar interbody fusion 
EJNMMI Research  2012;2:42.
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a method that allows decompression of the spinal canal and nerve roots by laminectomy combined with fusion by means of intervertebral cages filled with bone graft and pedicle screw fixation. Conventional imaging techniques, such as plain radiography and computed tomography (CT), have limitations to assess bony fusion dynamics.
In 16 PLIFs of 15 patients with persisting symptoms, positron-emission tomography (PET)/CT scans were made 60 min after intravenous administration of 156 to 263 MBq of 18 F-fluoride, including 1-mm sliced, high-dose, non-contrast-enhanced CT scanning. Maximal standard uptake values (SUVmax) of various regions were calculated and correlated with abnormalities on CT.
Subsidence of the cages into the vertebral endplates was the most frequently observed abnormality on CT (in 16 of 27 or 59% of evaluable endplates). Endplate SUVmax values were significantly higher for those patients with pronounced (p < 0.0001) or moderate (p < 0.013) subsidence as compared to those with no subsidence. Additionally, a significant correlation between vertebral and ipsilateral pedicle screw entrance SUVmax values (p < 0.009) was found, possibly indicating posterior transmission of increased bone stress. In our patient group, intercorporal fusion was seen on CT in 63% but showed no correlation to intercorporal SUVmax values.
With the use of 18 F-fluoride PET/CT, intervertebral cage subsidence appeared to be a prominent finding in this patient group with persisting symptoms, and highly correlating with the degree of PET hyperactivity at the vertebral endplates and pedicle screw entry points. Further study using 18 F-fluoride PET/CT should specifically assess the role of metabolically active subsidence in a prospective patient group, to address its role in nonunion and as a cause of persisting pain.
PMCID: PMC3444360  PMID: 22846374
F-fluoride; PET/CT; spinal fusion; lumbar spine; bone stress; subsidence
7.  Defatted, gas-sterilised cortical bone allograft for posterior lumbar interbody vertebral fusion 
International Orthopaedics  1998;22(2):69-76.
In posterior lumbar interbody vertebral fusion operations, variously sized, rectangular shaped, defatted, freeze-dried, gas-sterilised cortical bone allografts were used in combination with cancellous bone autografts from excised posterior elements. Single-level fusion, with or without internal fixation, was undertaken in 38 patients aged 50 years or less with disc herniation or a failed discectomy (the younger group) and in 33 women aged 60 years or more with degenerative spondylolisthesis (the older group). Of the various observable indicators of union, changes in the allograft-host interface alone proved to be of practical use. The incidence of nonunion in patients managed with pedicle screws, with a hook and rod system or without internal fixation was 0 of 8 patients; 1 of 14 patients; and 3 of 16 patients, respectively, in the younger group, and 0 of 11 patients; 0 of 8 patients; and 2 of 14 patients, respectively, in the older group. Of the six patients with nonunion, three had persistent low back pain and only two had mobility of the fused segment which was evident on lateral radiographs during flexion and extension. No patient had graft collapse. The decrease in the height of the intervertebral space, chiefly due to settlement of the allograft into the vertebral bodies, in the younger and older groups averaged 1.1 and 1.6 mm, respectively. We concluded that this simplified technique is mechanically sound and effective in maintaining the height of the intervertebral space. Even when the graft failed to unite, fibrous union could be obtained without graft collapse. Combination with a simple internal fixator, such as a compression rod, facilitates bone union.
PMCID: PMC3619706  PMID: 9651769
8.  Biological cages 
European Spine Journal  2000;9(Suppl 1):S102-S109.
Restoring a stable anterior column is essential to achieve normal spinal biomechanics. A variety of mechanical spacers have been developed and advocated for both anterior and posterior approaches. The ability to radiographically assess the “biology” of bone incorporation in these mechanical (metal) spacers is an inherent limitation. The femoral ring allograft (FRA) and posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) spacers have been developed as biological cages that permit restoration of the anterior column with a machined allograft bone (biological cage). Test results demonstrate that the FRA and PLIF Spacers have a compressive strength over 25,000 N. The pyramid shaped teeth on the surfaces and the geometry of the implant increase the resistance to expulsion at clinically relevant loads (1053 and 1236 N). The technique of anterior column reconstruction with both the FRA and the PLIF biological cages are discussed. Clinical experience with the PLIF biological cage (10 patients) and the FRA biological cage (90 patients) has not revealed any graft migration, infection, or subsidence. Additional posterior instrumentation may increase the stability of the motion segment, but the degree of stability necessary to achieve a biological union remains unclear. The incorporation of these biological cages can be monitored by conventional radiographic techniques. The method of insertion preserves the vertebral end-plates and can be performed by a minimally invasive or standard open procedure.
PMCID: PMC3611444  PMID: 10766065
Key words Biological cages; FRA spacer; PLIF spacer; Interbody ¶lumbar fusion; Arthrodesis
9.  Posterior lumbar interbody fusion combined with instrumented postero-lateral fusion: 5-year results in 60 patients 
European Spine Journal  2000;9(1):42-46.
The technique of posterior lumbar interbody fusion allows decompression of the spinal canal and interbody fusion through one posterior incision. A number of techniques exist to achieve additional posterior stability. The literature reports wide variation in outcomes for these different techniques. We assessed retrospectively the clinical and radiological outcome of posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) supplemented with an instrumented postero-lateral fusion (IPLF) using a pedicle screw system. Between July 1987 and April 1997, 60 patients underwent PLIF + IPLF. Clinical outcome was measured with physical examination in the outpatient setting and a patient questionnaire (patient satisfaction, analgesic use, return to work, Oswestry Disability Index). Radiological outcome was assessed with serial radiographs. If doubt existed regarding fixation, flexion/extension radiographs and plain tomograms were performed. The mean age was 44 years (range 19–69 years). The average follow-up was 5.3 years (range 1–10 years). Eighty percent of patients returned sufficiently completed questionnaires; 83% of these patients rated their outcome as good or excellent. Fifty percent of patients were able to return to full-time employment. All patients showed radiographic evidence of stable fixation. Four patients sustained a neurological complication, three of which resolved completely. The combination of PLIF with IPLF demonstrates clinical success, a stable circumferential fixation and a low complication rate.
PMCID: PMC3611345  PMID: 10766076
Key words Posterior lumbar ¶interbody fusion; Instrumented ¶postero-lateral fusion; Surgical ¶technique; Clinical outcome; Radiological outcome
10.  Extension CT scan: its suitability for assessing fusion after posterior lumbar interbody fusion 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(9):1496-1502.
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is a popular procedure for treating lumbar canal stenosis with spinal instability, and several reports concerning fusion assessment methods exist. However, there are currently no definitive criteria for diagnosing a successful interbody fusion in the lumbar spine. We suggested evaluating fusion status using computed tomography (CT) in extension position to detect pseudoarthrosis more precisely. The purpose of this study was to evaluate its usefulness for determining bone union quality after PLIF. Eighty-one patients who underwent PLIF at 97 levels were retrospectively enrolled. The study population included 48 men and 33 women (mean age 58.9 years, range 21–85 years). Patients were followed up for more than 12 months after surgery. The mean follow-up period was 27.6 months (range 14–49 months). Fusion status was evaluated using three ways: flexion–extension radiographs, CT images in flexion and extension position. In the flexion–extension radiographs, mobility of more than 3°, a remaining clear zone, or an uncertain bone connection constituted an incomplete union. For CT images, a remaining clear zone, a gas pattern, or an uncertain bone connection constituted an incomplete union. Flexion–extension radiographs demonstrated a solid fusion in 90.7% of the 97 levels at 10.7 months postoperatively. When fusion was demonstrated on flexion–extension radiographs, the rate of fusion affirmed by flexion CT and extension CT was 87.6 and 69.1% of the levels assessed, respectively. The rate of pseudoarthrosis detected on extension CT images was significantly higher than that on flexion–extension radiographs (P < 0.001) and flexion CT (P < 0.01). The rate of fusion achieved on extension CT was 85.6% at 15.1 months postoperatively. Extension CT could detect pseudoarthrosis more clearly than flexion–extension radiography and flexion CT. The CT images are influenced by body position and dilating anterior disc space in extension CT contributes to detect pseudoarthrodesis. Thus, extension CT was a useful method for assessing fusion status after PLIF.
PMCID: PMC3175889  PMID: 21380745
Extension CT; Flexion–extension radiograph; Interbody fusion; Fusion rate; Radiographic assessment
11.  Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion using unilateral pedicle screws and a translaminar screw 
European Spine Journal  2008;18(3):430-434.
Lumbar spinal fusion is advancing with minimally invasive techniques, bone graft alternatives, and new implants. This has resulted in significant reductions of operative time, duration of hospitalization, and higher success in fusion rates. However, costs have increased as many new technologies are expensive. This study was carried out to investigate the clinical outcomes and fusion rates of a low implant load construct of unilateral pedicle screws and a translaminar screw in transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) which reduced the cost of the posterior implants by almost 50%. Nineteen consecutive patients who underwent single level TLIF with this construct were included in the study. Sixteen patients had a TLIF allograft interbody spacer placed, while in three a polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage was used. Follow-up ranged from 15 to 54 months with a mean of 32 months. A clinical and radiographic evaluation was carried out preoperatively and at multiple time points following surgery. An overall improvement in Oswestry scores and visual analogue scales for leg and back pain (VAS) was observed. Three patients underwent revision surgery due to recurrence of back pain. All patients showed radiographic evidence of fusion from 9 to 26 months (mean 19) following surgery. This study suggests that unilateral pedicle screws and a contralateral translaminar screw are a cheaper and viable option for single level lumbar fusion.
PMCID: PMC2899415  PMID: 19015896
Translaminar screw; Transforaminal interbody fusion; Allograft; Polyetheretherketone cage
12.  The First Clinical Trial of Beta-Calcium Pyrophosphate as a Novel Bone Graft Extender in Instrumented Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion 
Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery  2011;3(3):238-244.
Porous β-calcium pyrophosphate (β-CPP) was developed to improve the fusion success of posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF). The possibility of accomplishing PLF using a mixture of porous β-CPP and iliac bone was studied. This paper reports the radiologic results of PLF using the β-CPP plus autograft for lumbar degenerative disease as a bone graft extender.
A prospective, case-matched, radiographic study evaluating the results of short segment lumbar fusion using a β-CPP plus autograft was performed to compare the efficacy of β-CPP plus autograft with that of an autograft alone for short segment lumbar fusion. Thirty one consecutive patients (46 levels) underwent posterolateral fusion with pedicle screw fixation and additional posterior lumbar interbody fusion. In all patients, 3 mL of β-CPP plus 3 mL of autogenous bone graft was placed randomly in one side of a posterolateral gutter, and 6 mL of autogenous iliac bone graft was placed on the other. The fusion rates, volumes of fusion masses, and bone absorption percentage were evaluated postoperatively using simple radiographs and 3 dimensional computed tomography (3D-CT) scans.
The control sides treated with an autograft showed significantly better Lenke scores than the study sides treated with β-CPP at 3 and 6 months postoperatively, but there was no difference between the two sides at 12 months. The fusion rates (confirmed by 3D-CT) were 87.0% in the β-CPP group and 89.1% in the autograft group, which were not significantly different. The fusion mass volumes and bone absorption percentage at 12 months postoperatively were 2.49 mL (58.4%) and 1.89 mL (69.5%) for the β-CPP and autograft groups, respectively, and mean fusion mass volume was significantly higher in the β-CPP group.
β-CPP combined with an autograft is as effective as autologous bone for grafting during instrumented posterolateral spinal fusion. These findings suggest that β-CPP bone chips can be used as a novel bone graft extender for short-segment posterolateral spinal fusion.
PMCID: PMC3162205  PMID: 21909472
Beta-calcium pyrophosphate; Bone graft extender; Fusion rate; Lumbar posterolateral fusion; Prospective consecutive study
13.  Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Using a Unilateral Single Cage and a Local Morselized Bone Graft in the Degenerative Lumbar Spine 
Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery  2009;1(4):214-221.
We retrospectively evaluated the clinical and radiological outcomes of posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with using a unilateral single cage and a local morselized bone graft.
Fifty three patients who underwent PLIF with a unilateral single cage filled with local morselized bone graft were enrolled in this study. The average follow-up duration was 31.1 months. The clinical outcomes were evaluated with using the visual analogue scale (VAS) at the pre-operative period, at 1 year post-operation and at the last follow-up, the Oswestry Disability Index, the Prolo scale and the Kim & Kim criteria at the last follow-up; the radiological outcomes were evaluated according to the change of bone bridging, the radiolucency, the instablity and the disc height.
For the clinical evaluation, the VAS pain index, the Oswestry Disability Index, the Prolo scale and the Kim & Kim criteria showed excellent outcomes. For the the radiological evaluation, 52 cases showed complete bone union at the last follow-up. Regarding the complications, only 1 patient had cage breakage during follow-up.
PLIF using a unilateral single cage filled with a local morselized bone graft has the advantages of a shorter operation time, less blood loss and a shorter hospital stay, as compared with the PLIF using bilateral cages, for treating degenerative lumbar spine disease. This technique also provides excellent outcomes according to the clinical and radiological evaluation.
PMCID: PMC2784962  PMID: 19956479
Spinal fusion; Posterior lumbar interbody fusion; Unilateral single cage; Local morselized graft
14.  Anterior Debridement and Strut Graft with Pedicle Screw Fixation for Pyogenic Spondylitis 
Asian Spine Journal  2007;1(2):91-97.
Study Design
A retrospective study.
We evaluated the results of the use of anterior debridement and interbody fusion followed by posterior spinal instrumentation.
Overview of Literature
An early diagnosis of pyogenic spondylitis is difficult to obtain. The disease can be treated with various surgical methods (such as anterior debridement and bone graft, anterior instrumentation, and posterior instrumentation).
This study included 20 patients who received anterior debridement and interbody fusion with strut bone graft followed by posterior spinal fusion for pyogenic spondylitis between 1996 and 2005. We analyzed the culture studies, the correction of the kyphotic angle, blood chemistry, the bony union period, and the amount of symptom relief.
In terms of clinical symptoms relief, eight patients were grouped as "excellent", eleven patients as "good", and one patient as "fair". The vertebral body cultures were positive in 14 patients showing coagulase (-) streptococcus and S. aureus. The average times for normalization of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein level were 3.3 and 1.9 months, respectively. Four months was required for bony union. For complications, meralgia paresthetica was found in two cases.
Due to early ambulation and the correction of the kyphotic angle, anterior interbody fusion with strut bone graft and posterior instrumentation could be another favorable method for the treatment of pyogenic spondyulitis.
PMCID: PMC2857475  PMID: 20411131
Pyogenic spondylitis; Anterior interbody fusion; Posterior instrumentation
15.  Biomechanical evaluation of three surgical scenarios of posterior lumbar interbody fusion by finite element analysis 
For the treatment of low back pain, the following three scenarios of posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) were usually used, i.e., PLIF procedure with autogenous iliac bone (PAIB model), PLIF with cages made of PEEK (PCP model) or titanium (Ti) (PCT model) materiel. But the benefits or adverse effects among the three surgical scenarios were still not fully understood.
Finite element analysis (FEA), as an efficient tool for the analysis of lumbar diseases, was used to establish a three-dimensional nonlinear L1-S1 FE model (intact model) with the ligaments of solid elements. Then it was modified to simulate the three scenarios of PLIF. 10 Nm moments with 400 N preload were applied to the upper L1 vertebral body under the loading conditions of extension, flexion, lateral bending and torsion, respectively.
Different mechanical parameters were calculated to evaluate the differences among the three surgical models. The lowest stresses on the bone grafts and the greatest stresses on endplate were found in the PCT model. The PCP model obtained considerable stresses on the bone grafts and less stresses on ligaments. But the changes of stresses on the adjacent discs and endplate were minimal in the PAIB model.
The PCT model was inferior to the other two models. Both the PCP and PAIB models had their own relative merits. The findings provide theoretical basis for the choice of a suitable surgical scenario for different patients.
PMCID: PMC3430554  PMID: 22709659
Spine; Cage; PEEK; Autogenous iliac bone; Ligaments
16.  Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion: a safe technique with satisfactory three to five year results 
European Spine Journal  2005;14(6):551-558.
The unilateral transforaminal approach for lumbar interbody fusion as an alternative to the anterior (ALIF) and traditional posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) combined with pedicle screw instrumentation is gaining in popularity. At present, a prospective study using a standardized tool for outcome measurement after the transforaminal lumber interbody fusion (TLIF) with a follow-up of at least 3 years is not available in the current literature, although there have been reports on specific complications and cost efficiency. Therefore, a study of TLIF was undertaken. Fifty-two consecutive patients with a minimum follow-up of 3 years were included, with the mean follow-up being 46 months (36–64). The indications were 22 isthmic spondylolistheses and 30 degenerative disorders of the lumbar spine. Thirty-nine cases were one-level, 11 cases were two-level, and two cases were three-level fusions. The pain and disability status was prospectively evaluated by the Oswestry disability index (ODI) and a visual analog scale (VAS). The status of bony fusion was evaluated by an independent radiologist using anterior–posterior and lateral radiographs. The operation time averaged 173 min for one-level and 238 min for multiple-level fusions. Average blood loss was 485 ml for one-level and 560 ml for multiple-level fusions. There were four serious complications registered: a deep infection, a persistent radiculopathy, a symptomatic contralateral disc herniation and a pseudarthrosis with loosening of the implants. Overall, the pain relief in the VAS and the reduction of the ODI was significant (P<0.05) at follow-up. The fusion rate was 89%. At the latest follow-up, significant differences of the ODI were neither found between isthmic spondylolistheses and degenerative diseases, nor between one- and multiple-level fusions. In conclusion, the TLIF technique has comparable results to other interbody fusions, such as the PLIF and ALIF techniques. The potential advantages of the TLIF technique include avoidance of the anterior approach and reduction of the approach related posterior trauma to the spinal canal.
PMCID: PMC3489237  PMID: 15672243
Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF); Low back pain; Spinal fusion; Lumbar fusion; Interbody fusion
17.  The Safety and Efficacy of Cadaveric Allografts and Titanium Cage as a Fusion Substitutes in Pyogenic Osteomyelitis 
The safety and efficacy of various fusion substitutes in pyogenic osteomyelitis has not been investigated. We evaluated and compared the cadaveric allograft and titanium cages used to reconstruct, maintain alignment and achieve fusion in the management of pyogenic spinal infection.
There were 33 patients with pyogenic osteomyelitis underwent fusion in this study. Fifteen of the 33 patients were operated on by fusion with allografts (cadaveric patella bones) and 18 of those were operated with titanium mesh cages filled with autologous cancellous iliac bone. After the affected disc and vertebral body resection with pus drainage, cadaveric allograft or titanium cages were inserted into the resected space. Posterior transpedicular screw fixation and rod compression in resected space, where cadaveric allograft or titanium cages were inserted, was performed to prevent the malposition in all patients except in 1 case. Recurrent infection was identified by serial erythrocyte sedimentation rate and cross reactive protein follow-up. Osseous union and recurred infection available at a minimum of 2 years following operation was identified. The amount of kyphosis correction and the subsidence were measured radiographically.
Spinal fusion was achieved in 29 of 33 patients. In the cadaveric allograft group, 93.3% of patient (14 of 15) showed the osseous union while 83.3% of patient (15 of 18) in the titanium cage group showed union. Subsidence was noted in 12 of the patients. Twelve patients (36.3%) showed unsettling amounts of subsidence postoperatively whereas 46.6% of patients in the cadaveric allograft group and 37.7% of patients in the titanium cage group showed similar subsidence, respectively. There were statistical difference in the fusion rate (p=0.397) and subsidence rate (p=0.276) between the two groups. There was significant statistical difference in the postoperative improvement of segmental kyphosis between the two groups (p=0.022), that is the improvement in sagittal alignment was greater in the titanium cage group than in the cadaveric allograft group. There was no case of recurred infection.
The cadaveric allograft and titanium cages are effective and safe in restoring and maintaining sagittal plane alignment without increased incidence in infection recurrence in pyogenic osteomyelitis. The postoperative improvement of segmental kyphosis was better in the cage group.
PMCID: PMC3243839  PMID: 22200018
Allograft; Fusion; Spinal infection; Titanium cage
18.  Outcome of single level instrumented posterior lumbar interbody fusion using corticocancellous laminectomy bone chips 
Indian Journal of Orthopaedics  2011;45(6):500-503.
Interbody fusion surgery has been considered by many to be a treatment of choice for instability in lumbar degenerative disc disease. A posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) has the advantages of spinal canal decompression, anterior column reconstruction, and reduction of the sagittal slips from a single posterior approach. The PLIF using double cage was a standard practice till many studies reported comparable results and lesser complications with single cage. Iliac crest was considered as an appropriate source of bone graft until comparable spinal fusion rates using local bone graft and cage emerged. Till date, there has been no report of corticocancellous laminectomy bone chips alone being used for spinal fusion. In this paper, we present radiologic results of single level instrumented PLIF, where in only corticocancellous laminectomy bone chips were used as a fusion device.
Materials and Methods:
It is a retrospective cohort study of 35 consecutive patients, who underwent single level instrumented PLIF surgery, wherein only locally obtained bone chips was used for spinal fusion. The average follow-up was 26 months. The indications for the surgery were as follows: 19 patients had disc herniations, with back pain of instability type, normal disc height on radiology. Ten patients had grade 1 spondylolisthesis, with significant back pain and translational instability on radiography. Three patients were redo spine surgeries, and three patients had healed spondylodiscitis with significant back pain and instability. All patients were regularly followed up and decision of spinal fusion or no fusion was taken at 2 years using modified criteria of Lee.
Of total 35 patients, there were 24 males and 11 females, with a mean age of 41 years. There were 16 patients with definitive fusion, 15 patients with probable fusion, 04 patients with possible pseudoarthrosis, and no patient had definitive pseudoarthrosis. The mean time for fusion to occur was 18 months. The average loss of disc height, over 2 year follow up, was only 3 mm in 8 patients. Three patients had a localized kyphosis of more than 3° at the fusion level. The average blood loss was 356 ml and average operating time was 150 min.
Corticocancellous laminectomy bone chips alone can be used as a means of spinal fusion in patients with single level instrumented PLIF. This has got a good fusion rate.
PMCID: PMC3227352  PMID: 22144741
Corticocancellous laminectomy bone chips; Interbody cage; posterior lumbar interbody fusion
19.  Long Term Efficacy of Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion with Standard Cages alone in Lumbar Disc Diseases Combined with Modic Changes 
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) is considered to have the best theoretical potential in promoting bony fusion of unstable vertebral segments by way of a load sharing effect of the anterior column. This study was undertaken to investigate the efficacy of PLIF with cages in chronic degenerative disc disease with Modic degeneration (changes of vertebral end plate).
A total of 597 patients underwent a PLIF with threaded fusion cages (TFC) from 1993 to 2000. Three-hundred-fifty-one patients, who could be followed for more than 3 years, were enrolled in this study. Patients were grouped into 4 categories according to Modic classification (no degeneration : 259, type 1 : 26, type 2 : 55, type 3 : 11). Clinical and radiographic data were evaluated retrospectively.
The clinical success rate according to the Prolo's functional and economic outcome scale was 86% in patients without degeneration and 83% in patients with Modic degeneration. The clinical outcomes in each group were 88% in type 1, 84% in type 2, and 73% in type 3. The bony fusion rate was 97% in patients without degeneration and 83% in patients with Modic degeneration. The bony fusion rate in each group was 81% in type 1, 84% in type 2, and 55% in type 3. The clinical success and fusion rates were significantly lower in patients with type 3 degeneration.
The PLIF with TFC has been found to be an effective procedure for lumbar spine fusion. But, the clinical outcome and bony fusion rates were significantly low in the patients with Modic type 3. The authors suggest that PLIF combined with pedicle screw fixation would be the better for them.
PMCID: PMC2773388  PMID: 19893720
Modic degeneration; Degenerative disc disease; Posterior lumbar interbody fusion; TFC
20.  Comparison of instrumented anterior interbody fusion with instrumented circumferential lumbar fusion 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(6):567-575.
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) restores disc height, the load bearing ability of anterior ligaments and muscles, root canal dimensions, and spinal balance. It immobilizes the painful degenerate spinal segment and decompresses the nerve roots. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) does the same, but could have complications of graft extrusion, compression and instability contributing to pseudarthrosis in the absence of instrumentation. The purpose of this study was to assess and compare the outcome of instrumented circumferential fusion through a posterior approach [PLIF and posterolateral fusion (PLF)] with instrumented ALIF using the Hartshill horseshoe cage, for comparable degrees of internal disc disruption and clinical disability. It was designed as a prospective study, comparing the outcome of two methods of instrumented interbody fusion for internal disc disruption. Between April 1994 and June 1998, the senior author (N.R.B.) performed 39 instrumented ALIF procedures and 35 instrumented circumferential fusion with PLIF procedures. The second author, an independent assessor (S.M.), performed the entire review. Preoperative radiographic assessment included plain radiographs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and provocative discography in all the patients. The outcome in the two groups was compared in terms of radiological improvement and clinical improvement, measured on the basis of improvement of back pain and work capacity. Preoperatively, patients were asked to fill out a questionnaire giving their demographic details, maximum walking distance and current employment status in order to establish the comparability of the two groups. Patient assessment was with the Oswestry Disability Index, quality of life questionnaire (subjective), pain drawing, visual analogue scale, disability benefit, compensation status, and psychological profile. The results of the study showed a satisfactory outcome (score≤30) on the subjective (quality of life questionnaire) score of 71.8% (28 patients) in the ALIF group and 74.3% (26 patients) in the PLIF group (P>0.05). On categorising Oswestry Index scores into "excellent", "better", "same", and "worse", we found no difference in outcome between the two groups: 79.5% (n=31) had satisfactory outcome with ALIF and 80% (n=28) had satisfactory outcome with PLIF. The rate of return to work was no different in the two groups. On radiological assessment, we found two nonunions in the circumferential fusion (PLIF) group (94.3% fusion rate) and indirect evidence of no nonunions in the ALIF group. There was no significant difference between the compensation rate and disability benefit rate between the two groups. There were three complications in ALIF group and four in the PLIF (circumferential) group. On the basis of these results, we conclude that it is possible to treat discogenic back pain by anterior interbody fusion with Hartshill horseshoe cage or with circumferential fusion using instrumented PLIF.
PMCID: PMC3467994  PMID: 14673717
Disc degeneration; Interbody fusion; Cages
21.  Treatment of multilevel degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis with spondylolisthesis using a combination of microendoscopic discectomy and minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion 
Degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis (DLSS) has become increasingly common and is characterized by multilevel disc herniation and lumbar spondylolisthesis, which are difficult to treat. The current study aimed to evaluate the short-term clinical outcomes and value of the combined use of microendoscopic discectomy (MED) and minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MI-TLIF) for the treatment of multilevel DLSS with spondylolisthesis, and to compare the combination with traditional posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). A total of 26 patients with multilevel DLSS and spondylolisthesis underwent combined MED and MI-TLIF surgery using a single cage and pedicle rod-screw system. These cases were compared with 27 patients who underwent traditional PLIF surgery during the same period. Data concerning incision length, surgery time, blood loss, time of bed rest and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score prior to and following surgery were analyzed statistically. Statistical significance was reached in terms of incision length, blood loss and the time of bed rest following surgery (P<0.05), but there was no significant difference between the surgery time and ODI scores of the two groups. The combined use of MED and MI-TLIF has the advantages of reduced blood loss, less damage to the paraspinal soft tissue, shorter length of incision, shorter bed rest time, improved outcomes and shorter recovery times and has similar short-term clinical outcomes to traditional PLIF.
PMCID: PMC3570089  PMID: 23403827
microendoscopic discectomy; minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion; posterior lumbar interbody fusion; lumbar spinal stenosis; lumbar spondylolisthesis
22.  Posterior Interspinous Fusion Device for One-Level Fusion in Degenerative Lumbar Spine Disease : Comparison with Pedicle Screw Fixation - Preliminary Report of at Least One Year Follow Up 
Transpedicular screw fixation has some disadvantages such as postoperative back pain through wide muscle dissection, long operative time, and cephalad adjacent segmental degeneration (ASD). The purposes of this study are investigation and comparison of radiological and clinical results between interspinous fusion device (IFD) and pedicle screw.
From Jan. 2008 to Aug. 2009, 40 patients underwent spinal fusion with IFD combined with posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF). In same study period, 36 patients underwent spinal fusion with pedicle screw fixation as control group. Dynamic lateral radiographs, visual analogue scale (VAS), and Korean version of the Oswestry disability index (K-ODI) scores were evaluated in both groups.
The lumbar spine diseases in the IFD group were as followings; spinal stenosis in 26, degenerative spondylolisthesis in 12, and intervertebral disc herniation in 2. The mean follow up period was 14.24 months (range; 12 to 22 months) in the IFD group and 18.3 months (range; 12 to 28 months) in pedicle screw group. The mean VAS scores was preoperatively 7.16±2.1 and 8.03±2.3 in the IFD and pedicle screw groups, respectively, and improved postoperatively to 1.3±2.9 and 1.2±3.2 in 1-year follow ups (p<0.05). The K-ODI was decreased significantly in an equal amount in both groups one year postoperatively (p<0.05). The statistics revealed a higher incidence of ASD in pedicle screw group than the IFD group (p=0.029).
Posterior IFD has several advantages over the pedicle screw fixation in terms of skin incision, muscle dissection and short operative time and less intraoperative estimated blood loss. The IFD with PLIF may be a favorable technique to replace the pedicle screw fixation in selective case.
PMCID: PMC3488645  PMID: 23133725
Degenerative; Fusion device; Interspinous; Lumbar disease; Posterior; Adjacent segmental degeneration
23.  Posterior lumbar interbody fusion using one diagonal fusion cage with transpedicular screw/rod fixation 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(2):173-177.
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) using threaded cages has gained wide popularity for lumbosacral spinal disease. Our biomechanical tests showed that PLIF using a single diagonal cage with unilateral facetectomy does add a little to spinal stability and provides equal or even higher postoperative stability than PLIF using two posterior cages with bilateral facetectomy. Studies also demonstrated that cages placed using a posterior approach did not cause the same increase in spinal stiffness seen with pedicle screw instrumentation, and we concluded that cages should not be used posteriorly without other forms of fixation. On the other hand, placement of two cages using a posterior approach does have the disadvantage of risk to the bilateral nerve roots. We therefore performed a prospective study to determine whether PLIF can be accomplished by utilizing a single diagonal fusion cage with the application of supplemental transpedicular screw/rod instrumentation. Twenty-seven patients underwent a PLIF using one single fusion cage (BAK, Sulzer Spine-Tech, Minneapolis, MN, USA) inserted posterolaterally and oriented anteromedially on the symptomatic side with unilateral facetectomy and at the same level supplemental fixation with a transpedicular screw/rod system. The internal fixation systems included 12 SOCON spinal systems (Aesculap AG, Germany) and 15 TSRH spinal systems (Medtronic Sofamor Danek, USA). The inclusion criteria were grade 1 to 2 lumbar isthmic spondylolisthesis, lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis, and recurrent lumbar disc herniations with instability. Patients had at least 1 year of low back pain and/or unilateral sciatica and a severely restricted functional ability in individuals aged 28–55 years. Patients with more than grade 2 spondylolisthesis or adjacent-level degeneration were excluded from the study. Patients were clinically assessed prior to surgery by an independent assessor; they were then reassessed at 1, 3, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months postoperatively by the same assessor and put into four categories: excellent, good, fair, and poor. Operative time, blood loss, hospital expense, and complications were also recorded. All patients achieved successful radiographic fusion at 2 years, and this was achieved at 1 year in 25 out of 27 patients. At 2 years, clinical results were excellent in 15patients, good in 10, fair in 1, and poor in 1. Regarding complications, one patient had a postoperative motor and sensory deficit of the nerve root. Reoperation was required in one patient due to migration of pedicle screws. No implant fractures or deformities occurred in any of the patients. PLIF using diagonal insertion of a single threaded cage with supplemental transpedicular screw/rod instrumentation enables sufficient decompression and solid interbody fusion to be achieved with minimal invasion of the posterior spinal elements. It is a clinically safer, easier, and more economical means of accomplishing PLIF.
PMCID: PMC3784842  PMID: 12709855
Lumbar Fusion cage Implant Transpedicular screw Interbody
24.  Minimally Invasive Multi-Level Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion Using a Percutaneously Inserted Spinal Fixation System : Technical Tips, Surgical Outcomes 
There are technical limitations of multi-level posterior pedicle screw fixation performed by the percutaneous technique. The purpose of this study was to describe the surgical technique and outcome of minimally invasive multi-level posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and to determine its efficacy.
Forty-two patients who underwent mini-open PLIF using the percutaneous screw fixation system were studied. The mean age of the patients was 59.1 (range, 23 to 78 years). Two levels were involved in 32 cases and three levels in 10 cases. The clinical outcome was assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS) and Low Back Outcome Score (LBOS). Achievement of radiological fusion, intra-operative blood loss, the midline surgical scar and procedure related complications were also analyzed.
The mean follow-up period was 25.3 months. The mean LBOS prior to surgery was 34.5, which was improved to 49.1 at the final follow up. The mean pain score (VAS) prior to surgery was 7.5 and it was decreased to 2.9 at the last follow up. The mean estimated blood loss was 238 mL (140-350) for the two level procedures and 387 mL (278-458) for three levels. The midline surgical scar was 6.27 cm for two levels and 8.25 cm for three level procedures. Complications included two cases of asymptomatic medial penetration of the pedicle border. However, there were no signs of neurological deterioration or fusion failure.
Multi-level, minimally invasive PLIF can be performed effectively using the percutaneous transpedicular screw fixation system. It can be an alternative to the traditional open procedures.
PMCID: PMC3259464  PMID: 22259691
Posterior lumbar interbody fusion; Percutaneous; Minimally invasive surgery
25.  PEEK cages as a potential alternative in the treatment of cervical spondylodiscitis: a preliminary report on a patient series 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(6):1004-1009.
The surgical management of cervical spondylodiscitis consists of the resection of the affected disc, the decompression of the cervical spinal cord, followed by the stabilization using an autologous bone graft or a titanium implant combined with a ventral plate fixation. Until now, there were no studies about the practicability and putative safety of PEEK cages in cervical spine infection. Now, we present the history of five patients suffering from neurological deficits and septicemia caused by mono- or bisegmental pyogenic cervical discitis and intraspinal abscess without severe bone destruction. Patients were treated surgically by discectomy, decompression, and ventral spondylodesis. The disc was replaced by a PEEK cage without additional fixation. Progressive bony fusion and complete regression of the inflammatory changes was demonstrated 7–8 months later by a computer assisted tomography and contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging, respectively. The vertebral alignment changed minimally; the cages developed only a slight average subsidence. The clinical symptoms improved in all patients significantly. Neck pain or instability was never observed. Nevertheless, prospective investigations of a larger patient series are mandatory. We suppose that the use of PEEK cages represents a potential and safe alternative in the treatment of cervical spondylodiscitis in selected patients.
PMCID: PMC2899978  PMID: 20069319
Cervical spondylodiscitis; Targeted antibiotic therapy; Sepsis; PEEK cage; Stabilization; Decompression

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