We investigated the clinical and radiological advantages of unilateral laminectomy in posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) procedure comparing with bilateral laminectomy, under the same procedural condition including bilateral instrumentation and insertion of two cages, in patients
with degenerative lumbar disease with unilateral leg symptoms.
We retrospectively reviewed 124 consecutive cases of PLIF via unilateral or bilateral approach between January 2006 and April 2010. In 80 cases (bilateral group), two cages were inserted via bilateral laminectomy, and in 44 cases (unilateral group), via unilateral laminectomy. The average
follow-up duration was 29.5 months. The clinical outcomes were evaluated with the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) and the Oswestry disability index (ODI). The fusion rates and disc space heights were determined by dynamic standing radiographs and/or computed tomography. Operative times, intra-operative and post-operative blood losses and hospitalization periods were also evaluated.
In clinical evaluation, the VAS and ODI scores showed excellent outcomes in both groups. There were no significant differences in term of fusion rate, but the perioperative blood loss and the operative time of the unilateral group were lower than that of the bilateral group.
Unilateral laminectomy can minimize the operative time and perioperative blood loss in PLIF procedure. However, the different preoperative
disc height between two groups is a limitation of this study. Despite this limitation, solid fusion and satisfactory symptomatic improvement could be achieved uniquely by our surgical method. This surgical method can be an alternative surgical technique in patients with unilateral leg pain.