Neurologic Injury after Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion

Since the first description of LLIF in 2006, the indications for LLIF have expanded and the rate of LLIF procedures performed in the USA has increased. LLIF has several theoretical advantages compared to other approaches including the preservation of the anterior and posterior annular/ligamentous structures, insertion of wide cages resting on the dense apophyseal ring bilaterally, and augmentation of disc height with indirect decompression of neural elements. Favorable long-term outcomes and a reduced risk of visceral/vascular injuries, incidental dural tears, and perioperative infections have been reported. However, approach-related complications such as motor and sensory deficits remain a concern. In well-indicated patients, LLIF can be a safe procedure used for a variety of indications 1).

Hijji et al. published a systematic review analyzing the complication profile of LLIF. Their study included a total of 63 articles and 6819 patients. The most commonly reported complications were transient neurologic injury (36.07%). The clinical significance of those transient findings, however, is unclear since the rate of persistent neurologic complications was much lower (3.98%) 2)

The risk of lumbar plexus injury is particularly concerning at the L4-5 disc space. Although LLIF is associated with an increased prevalence of anterior thigh/groin pain as well as motor and sensory deficits immediately after surgery, our results support that pain and neurologic deficits decrease over time. The level treated appears to be a risk factor for lumbosacral plexus injury 3).

Interestingly, the use of rhBMP-2 was associated with higher rates of persistent motor deficits, which might be explained by a direct deleterious effect of this agent on the lumbosacral plexus 4).

In a retrospective chart review of 118 patients, Cahill et al. determined the incidence of femoral nerve injury, which is considered one of the worst neurological complications after LLIF. The authors reported an approximate 5% femoral nerve injury rate of all the LLIF procedures performed at L4-5. There were no femoral nerve injuries at any other levels 5).

During a 6-year time period of performing LLIF Aichmair et al., noted a learning curve with a decreasing proportional trend for anterior thigh pain, sensory as well as motor deficits 6)

Le et al. also observed a learning curve with a significant reduction in the incidence of postoperative thigh numbness during a 3-year period (from 26.1 to 10.7%) 7).

Levi AD from the University of Miami Hospital, adopted an exclusive mini-open muscle-splitting approach in LLIF with first-look inspection of the lumbosacral plexus nerve elements taht may improve motor and sensory outcomes in general and the incidence of postoperative groin/thighsensory dysfunction and psoas-pattern weakness in particular 8).

References

1)

Salzmann SN, Shue J, Hughes AP. Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion-Outcomes and Complications. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2017 Dec;10(4):539-546. doi: 10.1007/s12178-017-9444-1. Review. PubMed PMID: 29038952; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5685966.
2)

Hijji FY, Narain AS, Bohl DD, Ahn J, Long WW, DiBattista JV, Kudaravalli KT, Singh K. Lateral lumbar interbody fusion: a systematic review of complication rates. Spine J. 2017 Oct;17(10):1412-1419. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2017.04.022. Epub 2017 Apr 26. Review. PubMed PMID: 28456671.
3)

Lykissas MG, Aichmair A, Hughes AP, Sama AA, Lebl DR, Taher F, Du JY, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP. Nerve injury after lateral lumbar interbody fusion: a review of 919 treated levels with identification of risk factors. Spine J. 2014 May 1;14(5):749-58. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.06.066. Epub 2013 Sep 5. PubMed PMID: 24012428.
4)

Lykissas MG, Aichmair A, Hughes AP, Sama AA, Lebl DR, Taher F, Du JY, Cammisa FP, Girardi FP. Nerve injury after lateral lumbar interbody fusion: a review of 919 treated levels with identification of risk factors. Spine J. 2014 May 1;14(5):749-58. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2013.06.066. Epub 2013 Sep 5. PubMed PMID: 24012428.
5)

Cahill KS, Martinez JL, Wang MY, Vanni S, Levi AD. Motor nerve injuries following the minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach. J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 Sep;17(3):227-31. doi: 10.3171/2012.5.SPINE1288. Epub 2012 Jun 29. PubMed PMID: 22746272.
6)

Aichmair A, Lykissas MG, Girardi FP, Sama AA, Lebl DR, Taher F, Cammisa FP, Hughes AP. An institutional six-year trend analysis of the neurological outcome after lateral lumbar interbody fusion: a 6-year trend analysis of a single institution. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013 Nov 1;38(23):E1483-90. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3182a3d1b4. PubMed PMID: 23873231.
7)

Le TV, Burkett CJ, Deukmedjian AR, Uribe JS. Postoperative lumbar plexus injury after lumbar retroperitoneal transpsoas minimally invasive lateral interbody fusion. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2013 Jan 1;38(1):E13-20. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e318278417c. PubMed PMID: 23073358.
8)

Sellin JN, Brusko GD, Levi AD. Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion Revisited: Complication Avoidance and Outcomes with the Mini-Open Approach. World Neurosurg. 2019 Jan;121:e647-e653. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.09.180. Epub 2018 Oct 3. PubMed PMID: 30292030.

Minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion for adult spinal deformity

A multicenter retrospective review of a minimally invasive adult spinal deformity database was queried with a minimum of 2-yr follow-up. Patients were divided into 2 groups as determined by the side of the curve from which the LLIF was performed: concave or convex.

No differences between groups were noted in demographic, and preoperative or postoperative radiographic parameters (all P > .05). There were 8 total complications in the convex group (34.8%) and 21 complications in the concave group (52.5%; P = .17). A subgroup analysis was performed in 49 patients in whom L4-5 was in the primary curve and not in the fractional curve. In this subset of patients, there were 6 complications in the convex group (31.6%) compared to 19 in the concave group (63.3%; P < .05) and both groups experienced significant improvements in coronal Cobb angle, Oswestry Disability Index, and Visual Analog Scale score with no difference between groups.

Patients undergoing LLIF for ADS had no statistically significant clinical or operative complication rates regardless of a concave or convex approach to the curve. Clinical outcomes and coronal plane deformity improved regardless of approach side. However, in cases wherein L4-5 is in the primary curve, approaching the fractional curve at L4-5 from the concavity may be associated with a higher complication rate compared to a convex approach 1).


Park et al., evaluated the clinical and radiological efficacies of supplementing minimally invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) with open posterior spinal fusion (PSF) in adult spinal deformity (ASD).

To evaluate the advantages of minimally invasive LLIF for ASD, patients who underwent minimally invasive LLIF followed by open PSF (combined group) were compared with patients who only underwent PSF (only PSF group). The clinical and radiological outcomes for deformity correction and indirect decompression were assessed. The occurrence of proximal junctional kyphosis (PJK) and proximal junctional failure (PJF) were also evaluated.

No significant differences were observed in the clinical outcomes of the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), visual analog scale, and major complications including reoperations between the groups. No additional advantage was found for coronal deformity correction, but the restoration of lumbar lordosis in the combined group was significantly higher postoperatively (15.3° vs. 8.87°, P = 0.003) and last follow-up (6.69° vs. 1.02°, P = 0.029) compared to that of the only PSF group. In the subgroup analysis for indirect decompression for the combined group, a significant increase of canal area (104 vs. 122 mm) and foraminal height (16.2 vs. 18.5 mm) was noted. The occurrence of PJK or PJF was significantly higher in the combined group than in the only PSF group (P = 0.039).

LLIF has advantages of indirect decompression and greater improvements of sagittal correction compared to only posterior surgery. LLIF should be conducted considering the above-mentioned benefits and complications including PJK or PJF in ASD 2).

References

1)

Kanter AS, Tempel ZJ, Agarwal N, Hamilton DK, Zavatsky JM, Mundis GM, Tran S, Chou D, Park P, Uribe JS, Wang MY, Anand N, Eastlack R, Mummaneni PV, Okonkwo DO. Curve Laterality for Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion in Adult Scoliosis Surgery: The Concave Versus Convex Controversy. Neurosurgery. 2018 Dec 1;83(6):1219-1225. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyx612. PubMed PMID: 29361052.
2)

Park HY, Ha KY, Kim YH, Chang DG, Kim SI, Lee JW, Ahn JH, Kim JB. Minimally Invasive Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion for Adult Spinal Deformity: Clinical and Radiological Efficacy With Minimum Two Years Follow-up. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2018 Jul 15;43(14):E813-E821. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002507. PubMed PMID: 29215493.
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