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1.  Biomechanical comparison of anterior lumbar interbody fusion: stand-alone interbody cage versus interbody cage with pedicle screw fixation - a finite element analysis 
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) followed by pedicle screw fixation (PSF) is used to restore the height of the intervertebral disc and provide stability. Recently, stand-alone interbody cage with anterior fixation has been introduced, which eliminates the need for posterior surgery. We compared the biomechanics of the stand-alone interbody cage to that of the interbody cage with additional PSF in ALIF.
A three-dimensional, non-linear finite element model (FEM) of the L2-5 segment was modified to simulate ALIF in L3-4. The models were tested under the following conditions: (1) intact spine, (2) destabilized spine, (3) with the interbody cage alone (type 1), (4) with the stand-alone cage with anterior fixation (SynFix-LR®; type 2), and (5) with type 1 in addition to PSF (type 3). Range of motion (ROM) and the stiffness of the operated level, ROM of the adjacent segments, load sharing distribution, facet load, and vertebral body stress were quantified with external loading.
The implanted models had decreased ROM and increased stiffness compared to those of the destabilized spine. The type 2 had differences in ROM limitation of 8%, 10%, 4%, and 6% in flexion, extension, axial rotation, and lateral bending, respectively, compared to those of type 3. Type 2 had decreased ROM of the upper and lower adjacent segments by 3-11% and 3-6%, respectively, compared to those of type 3. The greatest reduction in facet load at the operated level was observed in type 3 (71%), followed by type 2 (31%) and type 1 (23%). An increase in facet load at the adjacent level was highest in type 3, followed by type 2 and type 1. The distribution of load sharing in type 2 (anterior:posterior, 95:5) was similar to that of the intact spine (89:11), while type 3 migrated posterior (75:25) to the normal. Type 2 reduced about 15% of the stress on the lower vertebral endplate compared to that in type 1. The stress of type 2 increased two-fold compared to the stress of type 3, especially in extension.
The stand-alone interbody cage can provide sufficient stability, reduce stress in adjacent levels, and share the loading distribution in a manner similar to an intact spine.
PMCID: PMC3726285  PMID: 23890389
ALIF; Stand-alone cage; Pedicle screw fixation; Finite element analysis
2.  Radiographic Results of Single Level Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion in Degenerative Lumbar Spine Disease: Focusing on Changes of Segmental Lordosis in Fusion Segment 
Clinics in Orthopedic Surgery  2009;1(4):207-213.
To assess the radiographic results in patients who underwent transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF), particularly the changes in segmental lordosis in the fusion segment, whole lumbar lordosis and disc height.
Twenty six cases of single-level TLIF in degenerative lumbar diseases were analyzed. The changes in segmental lordosis, whole lumbar lordosis, and disc height were evaluated before surgery, after surgery and at the final follow-up.
The segmental lordosis increased significantly after surgery but decreased at the final follow-up. Compared to the preoperative values, the segmental lordosis did not change significantly at the final follow-up. Whole lumbar lordosis at the final follow-up was significantly higher than the preoperative values. The disc height was significantly higher in after surgery than before surgery (p = 0.000) and the disc height alter surgery and at the final follow-up was similar.
When performing TLIF, careful surgical techniques and attention are needed to restore and maintain the segmental lordosis at the fusion level.
PMCID: PMC2784961  PMID: 19956478
Lumbar osteoarthritis; Spinal fusion; Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion; Segmental lordosis
3.  Does Disc Space Height of Fused Segment Affect Adjacent Disc Degeneration in Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion? A Radiological Study 
The restoration of disc space height (DSH) is essential in anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), while it is unclear whether the reduction of DSH may alter the mechanical status and adversely affect adjacent segment, and few literatures focused on the subject.
Ninety five patients who had undergone ALIF for degenerative disc disease at our institution between March 2004 and March 2007 were retrospectively reviewed and 76 patients were enrolled in this study. Preoperative, postoperative and the final follow-up segmental lordosis (SL), whole lumbar lordosis (WLL) and DSH were measured and compared in adjacent segmental degeneration (ASD) group and non-ASD group, and the relationship between DSH, SL, WLL and ASD were investigated retrospectively.
In 76 patients, the radiographic ASD was proven in 25 (32.9%) and symptomatic ASD in 2 patients. There was a significant correlation between DSH and SL, but was insignificant between DSH and WLL, and a significant correlation was noticed between ASD and SL, WLL and DSH at final follow-up.
The normal DSH and SL is important for preventing ASD and an anterior cage with appropriate height and lordotic angle to be used in ALIF to maintain the proper DSH and SL.
PMCID: PMC3372028  PMID: 22737570
Adjacent segment degeneration; Anterior lumbar interbody fusion; Disc space height; Segmental lordosis; Whole lumbar lordosis
4.  Subsidence after anterior lumbar interbody fusion using paired stand-alone rectangular cages 
European Spine Journal  2005;15(1):16-22.
The authors conducted a study to determine at what stage after surgery the subsidence occurred, and to assess the relationships of radiographic fusion and the recurrence of symptoms with the development of subsidence. Ninety patients underwent a single-level anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) using paired stand-alone rectangular cages between November 2000 and June 2002. All patients had regular clinical or imaging follow-up for a minimum of 19 months (range 19–38 months, mean = 27 months). The ratio of male to female patients was 1:3.1. The patients’ ages at the time of ALIF ranged from 25 to 72 years, with a mean of 53 years. The preoperative and postoperative intervertebral disc heights were serially measured by plain radiographs. The location of cage subsidence into the vertebral body and times until the presence of subsidence were also assessed. The mean preoperative intervertebral disc height was 11.6±3.1 mm, which spread immediately after surgery to 16.9±2.0 mm. This increase was statistically significant (P=0.001). At the last follow-up visit, the mean intervertebral disc height had been reduced to 13.2±2.4 mm. Sixty-nine of 90 patients (76.7%) developed cage subsidence into the surrounding vertebral body. Subsidence was more often noted in the superior endplate above the cage with regard to the location of cage subsidence [superior endplate: 27 patients (39.1%), inferior endplate: 12 patients (17.3%), both: 30 patients (43.6%)]. The onset of subsidence varied from 0.25 to 8 months after surgery (median, 2.75 months). The 8-, 12-, and 16-week actuarial rates for developing cage subsidence were 38.9, 63.4, and 70.7%, respectively, when using the Kaplan–Meier method. There was no statistical correlation between the recurrence of symptoms (P=0.3952) and radiographic fusion (P=0.9518) with the log-rank test in development of subsidence. This study demonstrates that cage subsidence is an expected occurrence after ALIF using stand-alone rectangular cages. The 3- and 4-month actuarial rates for developing cage subsidence were 63.4 and 70.7%, respectively, and cage subsidence had no correlation with recurrence of symptoms and radiographic fusion in our study.
PMCID: PMC3454564  PMID: 15843972
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF); Cage; Subsidence
5.  The Effect of the Retroperitoneal Transpsoas Minimally Invasive Lateral Interbody Fusion on Segmental and Regional Lumbar Lordosis 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:516706.
Background. The minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion (MIS LIF) in the lumbar spine can correct coronal Cobb angles, but the effect on sagittal plane correction is unclear. Methods. A retrospective review of thirty-five patients with lumbar degenerative disease who underwent MIS LIF without supplemental posterior instrumentation was undertaken to study the radiographic effect on the restoration of segmental and regional lumbar lordosis using the Cobb angles on pre- and postoperative radiographs. Mean disc height changes were also measured. Results. The mean follow-up period was 13.3 months. Fifty total levels were fused with a mean of 1.42 levels fused per patient. Mean segmental Cobb angle increased from 11.10° to 13.61° (P < 0.001) or 22.6%. L2-3 had the greatest proportional increase in segmental lordosis. Mean regional Cobb angle increased from 52.47° to 53.45° (P = 0.392). Mean disc height increased from 6.50 mm to 10.04 mm (P < 0.001) or 54.5%. Conclusions. The MIS LIF improves segmental lordosis and disc height in the lumbar spine but not regional lumbar lordosis. Anterior longitudinal ligament sectioning and/or the addition of a more lordotic implant may be necessary in cases where significant increases in regional lumbar lordosis are desired.
PMCID: PMC3419412  PMID: 22919332
6.  A Multi-center Clinical Study of Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion with the Expandable Stand-alone Cage (Tyche® Cage) for Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Disorders 
This multi-center clinical study was designed to determine the long-term results of patients who received a one-level posterior lumbar interbody fusion with expandable cage (Tyche® cage) for degenerative spinal diseases during the same period in each hospital.
Fifty-seven patients with low back pain who had a one-level posterior lumbar interbody fusion using a newly designed expandable cage were enrolled in this study at five centers from June 2003 to December 2004 and followed up for 24 months. Pain improvement was checked with a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and their disability was evaluated with the Oswestry Disability Index. Radiographs were obtained before and after surgery. At the final follow-up, dynamic stability, quality of bone fusion, interveretebral disc height, and lumbar lordosis were assessed. In some cases, a lumbar computed tomography scan was also obtained.
The mean VAS score of back pain was improved from 6.44 points preoperatively to 0.44 at the final visit and the score of sciatica was reduced from 4.84 to 0.26. Also, the Oswestry Disability Index was improved from 32.62 points preoperatively to 18.25 at the final visit. The fusion rate was 92.5%. Intervertebral disc height, recorded as 9.94±2.69 mm before surgery was increased to 12.23±3.31 mm at postoperative 1 month and was stabilized at 11.43±2.23 mm on final visit. The segmental angle of lordosis was changed significantly from 3.54±3.70° before surgery to 6.37±3.97° by 24 months postoperative, and total lumbar lordosis was 20.37±11.30° preoperatively and 24.71±11.70° at 24 months postoperative.
There have been no special complications regarding the expandable cage during the follow-up period and the results of this study demonstrates a high fusion rate and clinical success.
PMCID: PMC2588207  PMID: 19096552
Expandable cage; Degeneration; Interbody fusion; Lumbar spine
7.  Anterior lumbar interbody fusion: Does stable anterior fixation matter? 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(4):386-392.
The purpose of this study was to compare the outcome of anterior lumbar interbody fusion without instrumentation (uninstrumented ALIF) against that with stable anterior cage fixation using Hartshill horseshoe instrumentation (ALIF-HH) for similar severity of disc disease. Between April 1994 and June 1998 the senior author N.R.B. performed 29 instrumented ALIF procedures with a Hartshill horseshoe cage (ALIF-HH). Between 1990 and 1998, the other senior author (J.M.H.), together with another senior consultant orthopaedic surgeon, performed 27 noninstrumented ALIF procedures using corticocancellous iliac crest autograft. All the patients in both groups had single-level fusion. An independent assessor (S.M.) performed the entire review. The mean follow-up was 4.7 years (2.3–7.9 years) in the uninstrumented ALIF group and 3.0 years (2.1–4.4 years) in the ALIF-HH group. There was subsidence of graft in four patients in the uninstrumented ALIF group. It is reasonable to assume that there was no pseudarthrosis in the ALIF-HH group. This difference was statistically significant (two-sided P-value =0.0425). On subjective score assessment, there was a satisfactory outcome (score≤30) of 87.5% (21 patients) in the uninstrumented ALIF group and 85.2% (23 patients) in the ALIF-HH group (P>0.05). On classification by the Oswestry Index into four categories, we found no difference in outcome between the two groups: 83.3% (n=20) had a satisfactory outcome (defined as Excellent or Better) with ALIF and 77.8% (n=21) had a satisfactory outcome with ALIF-HH using the Oswestry Disability Index for post-operative assessment (P>0.05). The results of this study indicate that the Hartshill horseshoe cage does improve the fusion rate, but does not affect clinical outcome.
PMCID: PMC3467789  PMID: 12768380
Hartshill horseshoe; Anterior lumbar fusion; Cage
8.  Sagittal balance parameters influence indications for lumbar disc arthroplasty or ALIF 
European Spine Journal  2011;20(Suppl 5):647-662.
Chronic lower back pain is a potentially incapacitating condition associated with disc degeneration. Although therapy is primarily pharmaceutical, surgery comprising arthrodesis constitutes an alternative. Anterior intersomatic lumbar arthrodesis (ALIF, anterior interbody lumbar fusion) is the reference approach, although total disc arthroplasty may also be undertaken. Analysis of pelvic and spinal parameters provides the best indication of sagittal balance.
Materials and methods
This was a prospective study in a continuous series of 99 patients presenting chronic lower back pain due to disc disease. Pelvic incidence, sacral slope, pelvic tilt, spino-sacral angle (SSA) and the four back types in the Roussouly classification were studied in radiographs of the whole spine under load using an EOS imaging system.
The pre-operative SSA value for the study population was 126.09° ± 8.45° and the mean spine tilt angle was 90° compared with 95° in healthy subjects. Following surgery, the SSA was considerably increased in the discal arthroplasty, resulting in a significantly more balanced spinal position. In the group of patients undergoing arthrodesis using the ALIF technique, no such significant improvement was found despite the use of a lordosis cage. We showed that in cases of low pelvic incidence, it was necessary to maintain a Roussouly type 1 or 2 back without increasing lordosis. The results demonstrated the value of L4–L5 disc prostheses in these subjects. L5–S1 arthrodesis seemed a more suitable approach for treating patients with elevated sacral slope (back type 3 or 4). This new type of analysis of sagittal parameters should be performed prior to all surgical procedures involving lumbar prostheses.
PMCID: PMC3175915  PMID: 21845396
Lumbar disc degeneration; ALIF; Total disc prosthesis; Sagittal balance; Spino-pelvic organisation; Spino-sacral angle
9.  Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion with Stand-Alone Interbody Cage in Treatment of Lumbar Intervertebral Foraminal Stenosis : Comparative Study of Two Different Types of Cages 
This retrospective study was performed to evaluate the clinical and radiological results of anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) using two different stand-alone cages in the treatment of lumbar intervertebral foraminal stenosis (IFS).
A total of 28 patients who underwent ALIF at L5-S1 using stand-alone cage were studied [Stabilis® (Stryker, Kalamazoo, MI, USA); 13, SynFix-LR® (Synthes Bettlach, Switzerland); 15]. Mean follow-up period was 27.3 ± 4.9 months. Visual analogue pain scale (VAS) and Oswestry disability index (ODI) were assessed. Radiologically, the change of disc height, intervertebral foraminal (IVF) height and width at the operated segment were measured, and fusion status was defined.
Final mean VAS (back and leg) and ODI scores were significantly decreased from preoperative values (5.6 ± 2.3 → 2.3 ± 2.2, 6.3 ± 3.2 → 1.6 ± 1.6, and 53.7 ± 18.6 → 28.3 ± 13.1, respectively), which were not different between the two devices groups. In Stabilis® group, postoperative immediately increased disc and IVF heights (10.09 ± 4.15 mm → 14.99 ± 1.73 mm, 13.00 ± 2.44 mm → 16.28 ± 2.23 mm, respectively) were gradually decreased, and finally returned to preoperative value (11.29 ± 1.67 mm, 13.59 ± 2.01 mm, respectively). In SynFix-LR® group, immediately increased disc and IVF heights (9.60 ± 2.82 mm → 15.61 ± 0.62 mm, 14.01 ± 2.53 mm → 21.27 ± 1.93 mm, respectively) were maintained until the last follow up (13.72 ± 1.21 mm, 17.87 ± 2.02 mm, respectively). The changes of IVF width of each group was minimal pre- and postoperatively. Solid arthrodesis was observed in 11 patients in Stabilis group (11/13, 84.6%) and 13 in SynFix-LR® group (13/15, 86.7%).
ALIF using stand-alone cage could assure good clinical results in the treatment of symptomatic lumbar IFS in the mid-term follow up. A degree of subsidence at the operated segment was different depending on the device type, which was higher in Stabilis® group.
PMCID: PMC2883055  PMID: 20539794
Anterior approach; Lumbar interbody fusion; Lumbar foraminal stenosis; Stand-alone cage
10.  A Radiological Comparison of Anterior Fusion Rates in Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion 
Global Spine Journal  2012;2(4):195-206.
Aim To compare anterior fusion in standalone anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) using cage and screw constructs and anterior cage–alone constructs with posterior pedicle screw supplementation but without posterior fusion.
Methods Eighty-five patients underwent single- or two-level ALIF procedure for degenerative disk disease or lytic spondylolisthesis (SPL). Posterior instrumentation was performed without posterior fusion in all cases of lytic SPL and when the anterior cage used did not have anterior screw through cage fixation.
Results Seventy (82%) patients had adequate radiological follow-up at a mean of 19 months. Forty patients had anterior surgery alone (24 single level and 16 two levels) and 30 had front-back surgery (15 single level and 15 two levels). Anterior locked pseudarthrosis was only seen in the anterior surgery–alone group when using the STALIF cage (Surgicraft, Worcestershire, UK) (37 patients). This occurred in five of the single-level surgeries (5/22) and nine of the two-level surgeries (9/15). Fusion was achieved in 100% of the front-back group and only 65% (26/40) of the anterior surgery–alone group.
Conclusion Posterior pedicle screw supplementation without posterolateral fusion improves the fusion rate of ALIF when using anterior cage and screw constructs. We would recommend supplementary posterior fixation especially in cases where more than one level is being operated.
PMCID: PMC3864421  PMID: 24353968
anterior lumbar interbody fusion; ALIF; locked pseudarthrosis; spondylolisthesis
11.  Comparison of plain radiographs with CT scan to evaluate interbody fusion following the use of titanium interbody cages and transpedicular instrumentation 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(4):378-385.
The availability of lumbar interbody cages has fuelled renewed interest in interbody fusion. Despite this, there is no consensus regarding the best non-invasive method for evaluation of interbody fusion, especially where cages have been used. The purpose of this study was to determine whether high-quality thin-slice (1- to 3-mm) computed tomography (CT) scans allow proper evaluation of interbody fusion through titanium cages. Patients undergoing lumbar interbody fusion were prospectively evaluated with CT scan and plain radiographs 6 months following surgery. These images were blindly and independently evaluated by a consultant radiologist and a spine research fellow, for bridging bony trabeculation both through and surrounding the cages as well as for changes at the cage endplate interface. Fifty-three patients (156 cages) undergoing posterior lumbar interbody fusion using titanium interbody cages were evaluated. Posterior elements were used to pack the cages and no graft was packed outside the cages. The outcome data were analysed using the Kappa co-efficient and chi-squared analysis. On CT scan, both observers noted bridging trabeculation in 95% of the cages (Kappa 0.85), while on radiographs this was present in only 4% (Kappa 0.74). Both observers also identified bridging trabeculation surrounding the cages on CT scan in 90% of cages (Kappa 0.82), while on the radiographs this was 8% (Kappa 0.86). Radiographs also failed to demonstrate all the loose cages. The results of the study show that high-quality CT scans show images suggesting bridging bony trabeculae following the use of titanium interbody cages. They also appear to show consistent bone outside the cages in spite of no bone graft having been used, and they appear to be better than plain radiographs in the early detection of cage loosening.
PMCID: PMC3467781  PMID: 12734742
Lumbar interbody fusion; Plain radiographs; CT
12.  Biomechanical stability of five stand-alone anterior lumbar interbody fusion constructs 
European Spine Journal  2000;9(1):14-22.
Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) cages are expected to reduce segmental mobility. Current ALIF cages have different designs, suggesting differences in initial stability. The objective of this study was to compare the effect of different stand-alone ALIF cage constructs and cage-related features on initial segmental stability. Human multi-segmental specimens were tested intact and with an instrumented L3/4 disc level. Five different ALIF cages (I/F, BAK, TIS, SynCage, and ScrewCage) were tested non-destructively in axial rotation, flexion/extension and lateral bending. A cage ‘pull-out’ concluded testing. Changes in neutral zone (NZ) and range of motion (ROM) were analyzed. Cage-related measurements normalized to vertebral dimensions were used to predict NZ and ROM. No cage construct managed to reduce NZ. The BAK and TIS cages had the largest NZ increase in flexion/extension and lateral bending, respectively. Cages did reduce ROM in all loading directions. The TIS cage was the least effective in reducing the ROM in lateral bending. Cages with sharp teeth had higher ‘pull-out’ forces. Antero-posterior and medio-lateral cage dimensions, cage height and wedge angle were found to influence initial stability. The performance of stand-alone ALIF cage constructs generally increased the NZ in any loading direction, suggesting potential directions of initial segmental instability that may lead to permanent deformity. Differences between cages in flexion/extension and lateral bending NZ are attributed to the severity of geometrical cage-endplate surface mismatch. Stand-alone cage constructs reduced ROM effectively, but the residual ROM present indicates the presence of micromotion at the cage-endplate interface.
PMCID: PMC3611354  PMID: 10766072
Key words Biomechanics; Implant; Interbody fusion; Segmental ¶flexibility; Lumbar spine
13.  Minimum 10-Year Follow-up Study of Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion for Degenerative Spondylolisthesis: Progressive Pattern of the Adjacent Disc Degeneration 
Asian Spine Journal  2012;6(2):105-114.
Study Design
Retrospective study.
The aims of the current study are to evaluate the minimum 10-year follow-up clinical results of anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) for degenerative spondylolisthesis.
Overview of Literature
ALIF has been widely used as a treatment regimen in the management of lumbar spondylolisthesis. Still much controversy exists regarding the factors that affect the postoperative clinical outcomes.
The author performed a retrospective review of 20 patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis treated with ALIF (follow-up, 16.4 years). The clinical results were assessed by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score for low back pain, vertebral slip and disc height index on the radiographs.
The mean preoperative JOA score was 7.1 ± 1.8 points (15-point-method). At 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years or more after surgery, the JOA scores were assessed as 12.4 ± 2.2 points, 12.7 ± 2.6 points, 12.0 ± 2.5 points, respectively (excluding the data of reoperated cases). The adjacent disc degeneration developed in all cases during the long-term follow-up. The progressive pattern of disc degeneration was divided into three types. Initially, disc degeneration occurred due to disc space narrowing. After that, the intervertebral discs showed segmental instability with translation at the upper level. But the lower discs showed osteophyte formation, and occasionally lead to the collapse or spontaneous union.
The clinical results of the long-term follow-up data after ALIF became worse due to the adjacent disc degeneration. The progressive pattern of disc degeneration was different according to the adjacent levels.
PMCID: PMC3372545  PMID: 22708014
Spondylolisthesis; Lumbar regions; Intervertebral disc disease
14.  Biomechanical comparison of three stand-alone lumbar cages — a three-dimensional finite element analysis 
For anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), stand-alone cages can be supplemented with vertebral plate, locking screws, or threaded cylinder to avoid the use of posterior fixation. Intuitively, the plate, screw, and cylinder aim to be embedded into the vertebral bodies to effectively immobilize the cage itself. The kinematic and mechanical effects of these integrated components on the lumbar construct have not been extensively studied. A nonlinearly lumbar finite-element model was developed and validated to investigate the biomechanical differences between three stand-alone (Latero, SynFix, and Stabilis) and SynCage-Open plus transpedicular fixation. All four cages were instrumented at the L3-4 level.
The lumbar models were subjected to the follower load along the lumbar column and the moment at the lumbar top to produce flexion (FL), extension (EX), left/right lateral bending (LLB, RLB), and left/right axial rotation (LAR, RAR). A 10 Nm moment was applied to obtain the six physiological motions in all models. The comparison indices included disc range of motion (ROM), facet contact force, and stresses of the annulus and implants.
At the surgical level, the SynCage-open model supplemented with transpedicular fixation decreased ROM (>76%) greatly; while the SynFix model decreased ROM 56-72%, the Latero model decreased ROM 36-91%, in all motions as compared with the INT model. However, the Stabilis model decreased ROM slightly in extension (11%), lateral bending (21%), and axial rotation (34%). At the adjacent levels, there were no obvious differences in ROM and annulus stress among all instrumented models.
ALIF instrumentation with the Latero or SynFix cage provides an acceptable stability for clinical use without the requirement of additional posterior fixation. However, the Stabilis cage is not favored in extension and lateral bending because of insufficient stabilization.
PMCID: PMC3852219  PMID: 24088294
ALIF; Anterior lumbar interbody fusion; Stand-alone cage; Finite element analysis
15.  Subsidence of stand-alone cervical cages in anterior interbody fusion: warning 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(5):513-516.
Anterior cervical decompression and fusion with anterior plating of the cervical spine is a well-accepted treatment for cervical radiculopathy. Recently, to minimise the extent of surgery, anterior interbody fusion with cages has become more common. While there are numerous reports on the primary stabilising effects of the different cervical cages, little is known about the subsidence behaviour of such cages in vivo. We retrospectively reviewed eight patients with cervical radiculopathy operated upon with anterior discectomy and fusion with a stand-alone titanium cervical cage. During surgery, only the cartilage portion of the end plate was removed and the cages were filled with autologous cancellous bone graft from the iliac crest. To assess possible subsidence or migration, three different radiographic measurements in the sagittal plane were taken for each case, postoperatively and at the latest follow-up. Subsidence was defined as any change in at least one of our parameters of at least 3 mm. Follow-up time was 12–18 months (average 15 months). Five of the nine fused levels had radiological signs of cage subsidence. No posterior or anterior migration was observed. However, subsidence did not correlate with clinical symptoms in four of the five patients. The remaining patient with signs of subsidence, whose neck pain and neurologic symptoms had regressed in the early postoperative course, suffered recurrence of radiculopathy 6 months after the surgery. Her symptoms were explained by the subsidence of the cage and the subsequent foraminal stenosis observed on the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. At 15 months' follow-up, her cage was broken. Our preliminary results, so far limited in number, represent a serious warning to the proponents of stand-alone cervical cages
PMCID: PMC3468003  PMID: 12827473
Cervical radiculopathy; Cervical cage; Interbody fusion; Subsidence
16.  Acute Reciprocal Changes Distant from the Site of Spinal Osteotomies Affect Global Postoperative Alignment 
Advances in Orthopedics  2011;2011:415946.
Introduction. Three-column vertebral resections are frequently applied to correct sagittal malalignment; their effects on distant unfused levels need to be understood. Methods. 134 consecutive adult PSO patients were included (29 thoracic, 105 lumbar). Radiographic analysis included pre- and postoperative regional curvatures and pelvic parameters, with paired independent t-tests to evaluate changes. Results. A thoracic osteotomy with limited fusion leads to a correction of the kyphosis and to a spontaneous decrease of the unfused lumbar lordosis (−8°). When the fusion was extended, the lumbar lordosis increased (+8°). A lumbar osteotomy with limited fusion leads to a correction of the lumbar lordosis and to a spontaneous increase of the unfused thoracic kyphosis (+13°). When the fusion was extended, the thoracic kyphosis increased by 6°. Conclusion. Data from this study suggest that lumbar and thoracic resection leads to reciprocal changes in unfused segments and requires consideration beyond focal corrections.
PMCID: PMC3189460  PMID: 22007318
17.  Polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cage filled with cancellous allograft in anterior cervical discectomy and fusion 
International Orthopaedics  2007;32(5):643-648.
From July 2004 to June 2005, 19 patients with 25 discs underwent anterior cervical discectomy and interbody fusion (ACDF) in which polyetheretherketone (PEEK) cages were filled with freeze-dried cancellous allograft bone. This kind of bone graft was made from femoral condyle that was harvested during total knee arthroplasty. Patient age at surgery was 52.9 (28–68) years. All patients were followed up at least 1 year. We measured the height of the disc and segmental sagittal angulation by pre-operative and post-operative radiographs. CT scan of the cervical spine at 1 year was used to evaluate fusion rates. Odom's criteria were used to assess the clinical outcome. All interbody disc spaces achieved successful union at 1-year follow-up. The use of a PEEK cage was found to increase the height of the disc immediately after surgery (5.0 mm pre-operatively, 7.3 mm immediately post-operatively). The final disc height was 6.2 mm, and the collapse of the disc height was 1.1 mm. The segmental lordosis also increased after surgery (2.0° pre-operatively, 6.6° immediately post-operatively), but the mean loss of lordosis correction was 3.3° at final follow-up. Seventy-four percent of patients (14/19) exhibited excellent/good clinical outcomes. Analysis of the results indicated the cancellous allograft bone-filled PEEK cage used in ACDF is a good choice for patients with cervical disc disease, and avoids the complications of harvesting iliac autograft.
PMCID: PMC2551716  PMID: 17639386
18.  Sagittal spino-pelvic alignment failures following three column thoracic osteotomy for adult spinal deformity 
European Spine Journal  2011;21(4):698-704.
Three column thoracic osteotomy (TCTO) is effective to correct rigid thoracic deformities, however, reasons for residual postoperative spinal deformity are poorly defined. Our objective was to evaluate risk factors for poor spino-pelvic alignment (SPA) following TCTO for adult spinal deformity (ASD).
Multicenter, retrospective radiographic analysis of ASD patients treated with TCTO. Radiographic measures included: correction at the osteotomy site, thoracic kyphosis (TK), lumbar lordosis (LL), sagittal vertical axis (SVA), pelvic tilt (PT), and pelvic incidence (PI). Final SVA and PT were assessed to determine if ideal SPA (SVA < 4 cm, PT < 25°) was achieved. Differences between the ideal (IDEAL) and failed (FAIL) SPA groups were evaluated.
A total of 41 consecutive ASD patients treated with TCTO were evaluated. TCTO significantly decreased TK, maximum coronal Cobb angle, SVA and PT (P < 0.05). Ideal SPA was achieved in 32 (78%) and failed in 9 (22%) patients. The IDEAL and FAIL groups had similar total fusion levels and similar focal, SVA and PT correction (P > 0.05). FAIL group had larger pre- and post-operative SVA, PT and PI and a smaller LL than IDEAL (P < 0.05).
Poor SPA occurred in 22% of TCTO patients despite similar operative procedures and deformity correction as patients in the IDEAL group. Greater pre-operative PT and SVA predicted failed post-operative SPA. Alternative or additional correction procedures should be considered when planning TCTO for patients with large sagittal global malalignment, otherwise patients are at risk for suboptimal correction and poor outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3326123  PMID: 21837411
Spinopelvic alignment; Sagittal vertical axis; Osteotomy; Pedicle subtraction osteotomy; Thoracic; Vertebral column resection
19.  Clasped position for measurement of sagittal spinal alignment 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(5):782-786.
Lateral whole-spine radiography is a useful tool in the management of spinal deformity, but the most appropriate arm position during radiography has yet to be determined. In this prospective study, we evaluated 26 adult volunteers and 22 patients with lumbar spinal canal stenosis. Lateral whole-spine radiographs were acquired in the most stable and relaxed position while the subjects were standing with their arms extended and their hand gently clasped in front of the trunk (clasped position). The following parameters were measured: sagittal vertical axis (SVA), lumbar lordotic angle (LLA), pelvic angle (PA), pelvic lordosis angle (PRS1), pelvic tilt (PT), and pelvic incidence (PI). The reliability of measurements was assessed by interclass correlation coefficients. The SVA was slightly positive in volunteers. LLA, PA, PRS1, PT, and PI were compatible with standard normal values. The results showed “almost perfect agreement” with regard to intra- and interobserver reliability. The clasped position can be used effectively and reliably for measurement of sagittal spinal alignment for the lumbar region in adults.
PMCID: PMC2899962  PMID: 20204424
Sagittal spinal alignment; Arm position; Sagittal vertical axis; Clasped position
20.  Outcome of the Graf ligamentoplasty procedure compared with anterior lumbar interbody fusion with the Hartshill horseshoe cage 
European Spine Journal  2003;12(4):361-368.
The objective of our study was to assess the efficacy of Graf ligamentoplasty in comparison with rigid fixation and fusion with the Hartshill horseshoe cage for similar severity of disc degeneration. Although studies have been done on the Graf ligamentoplasty procedure and the Hartshill horseshoe cage, their efficacy has never been compared in any study. This study was done to decide whether retaining mobility and stabilizing the spine is best or stiffening the lumbar segment by fusion is preferable. Between 1995 and 1997, a prospective randomized study was performed comparing Graf ligament stabilization and anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Twenty-eight patients had single-level Graf ligaments inserted and 27 patients had single-level anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) with a Hartshill horseshoe cage and tricortical iliac crest autograft. The two groups were similar in age, sex, symptoms, severity of the disc degeneration, and duration of follow-up. The chi-square test and t-test were used to evaluate the outcome. At a minimum follow-up of 2.1 years, we found that 93% of patients who had undergone Graf ligamentoplasty had a satisfactory outcome (rated "excellent" or "better") compared to 77.8% of patients who had been treated with ALIF with Hartshill horseshoe cage stabilization and fusion, when measured on the Oswestry Disability Index (P<0.05). Retaining mobility in the lumbar segments gives better results after stabilisation with Graf ligaments than rigid fixation and fusion with the Hartshill horseshoe cage in the short term. We will be watching this cohort of patients over the next few years.
PMCID: PMC3467791  PMID: 12955608
Lumbar interbody fusion; Graf ligament; Disc degeneration
21.  A decade’s experience in lumbar spine surgery in Belgium: sickness fund beneficiaries, 2000–2009 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(12):2693-2703.
The purpose is to study rates, trends, geographic variations and outcome of lumbar spine surgery in the Belgian population during the last decade.
This is a retrospective cohort study using administrative data of the largest Belgian sickness fund from January 1, 2000 through December 31, 2009. Cases included lumbar laminectomy, combined discectomy and fusion, posterior interarticular fusion, anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF), posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) and standard discectomy. The main outcome measures were age- and sex-adjusted rates of lumbar spine surgery, 1-year mortality, 1-year iterative surgery, no return to work (RTW) rate 1 year after surgery and length of hospital stay. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between age, sex, geographic region, type of surgery, year of intervention and duration of pre-operative sick leave on outcome.
Spine surgery rates rose 44 % from 2001 through 2009 and data for 2009 showed twofold variations in spine surgery rates among 10 Belgian provinces. Reported 1-year mortality varied from 0.6 to 2.5 % among surgical procedures performed in 2008. The overall 5-year reoperation rate was 12 %. RTW rates 1 year after standard discectomy, ALIF, PLIF and combined discectomy and fusion for the follow-up sample of 2008 were 14.4, 22.7, 26.1 and 30.6 %, respectively. The median length of hospital stay significantly decreased throughout the decade. Type of surgery and geographic region were significantly related to patient outcomes.
Regional variations highlight professional uncertainty and controversy. The study results point to the need for peer comparisons and surgeon feedback.
PMCID: PMC3508248  PMID: 22661202
Lumbar surgery rates; Trends; Reoperations; Return to work; Regional variations; Length of stay
22.  Comparative effectiveness research across two spine registries 
European Spine Journal  2012;21(8):1640-1647.
Comparative effectiveness research in spine surgery is still a rarity. In this study, pain alleviation and quality of life (QoL) improvement after lumbar total disc arthroplasty (TDA) and anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) were anonymously compared by surgeon and implant.
A total of 534 monosegmental TDAs from the SWISSspine registry were analyzed. Mean age was 42 years (19–65 years), 59 % were females. Fifty cases with ALIF were documented in the international Spine Tango registry and used as concurrent comparator group for the pain analysis. Mean age was 46 years (21–69 years), 78 % were females. The average follow-up time in both samples was 1 year. Comparison of back/leg pain alleviation and QoL improvement was performed. Unadjusted and adjusted probabilities for achievement of minimum clinically relevant improvements of 18 VAS points or 0.25 EQ-5D points were calculated for each surgeon.
Mean preoperative back pain decreased from 69 to 30 points at 1 year (ØΔ 39pts) after TDA, and from 66 to 27 points after ALIF (ØΔ 39pts). Mean preoperative QoL improved from 0.34 to 0.74 points at 1 year (ØΔ 0.40pts). There were surgeons with better patient selection, indicated by lower adjusted probabilities reflecting worsening of outcomes if they had treated an average patient sample. ALIF had similar pain alleviation than TDA.
Pain alleviation after TDA and ALIF was similar. Differences in surgeon’s patient selection based on pain and QoL were revealed. Some surgeons seem to miss the full therapeutic potential of TDA by selecting patients with lower symptom severity.
PMCID: PMC3535250  PMID: 22415762
Comparative effectiveness; Spine registry; SWISSspine; Total disc arthroplasty; Benchmark
23.  Sagittal Plane Lumbar Responses after Anterior Selective Thoracic Fusion for Main Thoracic Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis 
Asian Spine Journal  2007;1(2):80-87.
Study Design
A retrospective radiographic study.
To verify the correlation of sagittal and coronal plane changes after selective thoracic fusion in main thoracic (MT) adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS).
Overview of Literature
Sagittal plane deformity is known to be essential in the evolution of scoliosis.
Twenty-eight MT AIS patients treated by anterior selective thoracic fusion were evaluated after minimal follow-up of two years. The unfused lumbar area was divided into proximal and distal parts by the lumbar apex in the coronal plane, and into proximal and distal lumbar lordosis by L2 in the sagittal plane. Surgical motion (the difference between preoperative and postoperative values) and follow-up motion (the difference between postoperative and the last follow-up values) were compared.
Immediately after surgery, as thoracic kyphosis increased, lumbar lordosis decreased (r=0.734); proximal lumbar lordosis increased, and distal lumbar lordosis decreased. The proximal lumbar area was mobilized in the sagittal plane, and was straightened in the coronal plane. However, the distal lumbar area was stabilized in the sagittal plane, and showed resistant motion against MT translation in the coronal plane. The surgical motion was correlated to the follow-up motion, i. e., was regulated during follow-up, and the regulatory motion was more precise in the distal than proximal lumbar area in both sagittal and coronal planes.
Sagittal and coronal motions were co-related; optimal sagittal motions were necessary for optimal coronal motions after anterior selective thoracic fusion for MT AIS. Proximal and distal lumbar motions were different for different roles; the proximal lumbar area played a role as a bumper to absorb the MT translatory force, and the distal lumbar area played a role of resistance against MT translation.
PMCID: PMC2857478  PMID: 20411129
Sagittal plane; Selective thoracic fusion; Anterior spinal fusion; Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis
24.  Hybrid construct for two levels disc disease in lumbar spine 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(2):290-296.
Prospective study. To study the validity of Hybrid construction (Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion) ALIF at one level and total disc arthroplasty (TDA) at adjacent, for two levels disc disease in lumbar spine as surgical strategy. With growing evidence that fusion constructs in the treatment of degenerative disc disease (DDD) may alter sagittal balance and contribute to undesirable complications in the long-term, total disc arthroplasty (TDA) slowly becomes an accepted treatment option for a selected group of patients. Despite encouraging early and intermediate term results of single-level total disc arthroplasty reported in the literature, there is growing evidence that two-level arthroplasty does not fare as well. Hybrid fusion is an attempt to address two-level DDD by combining the advantages of a single-level ALIF with those of a single-level arthroplasty. 42 patients (25 females and 17 males) underwent Hybrid fusion and had a median follow-up of 26.3 months. The primary functional outcomes were assessed before and after surgery with Oswestry Disability Index and the visual analogue score of the back and legs. Patients were divided into four groups according to the percentage improvement between preop and postop ODI scores. A total of 42 patients underwent a hybrid fusion as follows: 35 L5-S1 ALIF/L4-5 prosthesis, 3 L4-5 ALIF/L3-4 prosthesis, 2 L5-S1 ALIF/L4-5 prosthesis/L3-4 prosthesis, 1 L5-S1 prosthesis/L4-5 ALIF, and 1 L5-S1 ALIF/L4-5 ALIF/L3-4 prosthesis. At 2-years clinical outcomes, mean reduction in ODI is 24.9 points (53.0% improvement compared to preop ODI). The visual analogue score for the back is 64.6% improvement. At 2-year clinical outcomes, Hybrid fusion is a viable surgical alternative for the treatment of two-level DDD in comparison with two-level TDA and with two-level fusion.
PMCID: PMC2899811  PMID: 19888610
Total disc arthroplasty; Anterior lumbar interbody fusion; Lumbar spine; Degenerative disc disease; Hybrid construct; Lumbar fusion
25.  Outcomes of allogenic cages in anterior and posterior lumbar interbody fusion 
European Spine Journal  2001;10(Suppl 2):S158-S168.
Interbody lumbar fusions provide a proven logical solution to diseases of the intervertebral discs by eliminating motion of the segment. Historically, there are many techniques to achieve spinal fusion in the lumbar spine. These include anterior, posterior, and foramenal approaches, often in combination with various internal fixation devices. The surgeon's choice of the approach and mechanical or biological implant is dependent on the patient's specific pathology and anatomy, in addition to the experience and training of the surgeon in similar conditions. In the past decade, new mechanical spine implants/spacers have been designed to provide restoration of disc height and improve stabilization of the spine. The ability to radiographically assess the "biology" of bone incorporation in these mechanical (metal) spacers has become a significant limitation.
The femoral ring allograft (FRA) and the posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) spacers have been developed as "biological cages" that permit restoration of the anterior column with machined allograft bone biological cages. Test results demonstrate that the FRA and PLIF spacers have a compressive strength of 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 have been previously reported.
Clinical outcomes and experience with the FRA spacer (137 patients) and the PLIF spacer (13 patients) were reported on and did not reveal any evidence of bone cage resorption or infectious inflammatory process. There was clinical migration with one PLIF spacer, which was later revised with an anterior approach and a FRA spacer. The radiographic outcomes demonstrated that 94% arthrodesis was achieved with the biological spacer and additional posterior instrumentation. The clinical success of every spine fusion procedure is dependent on many factors such as the extent of the instability, the pathology, type of graft used, the patient's pathology/anatomy and lifestyle.
PMCID: PMC3611548  PMID: 11716014
Biological cages Femoral ring allograft spacer Posterior lumbar interbody fusion spacer Interbody lumbar fusion Arthrodesis

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