Posterolateral Versus Transforaminal Interbody L4/5 Fusion: Correlation With Subsequent Surgery

Christian J. Gaffney, Manuel R. Pinto, Abdul F. Buyuk, Timothy A. Garvey, Benjamin Mueller, James D. Schwender, Ensor E. Transfeldt, Harrison K. Tam, John M. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN: This is a retrospective cohort study. OBJECTIVE: To compare posterolateral versus transforaminal interbody fusion (PLF vs. PLF+TLIF) of the L4/5 segment regarding rates of subsequent surgery, clinical and radiographic parameters, and patient satisfaction. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Surgical treatment of lumbar stenosis, decompression with or without fusion, is an efficacious treatment in select patients. Reoperation is thought to be a problem after lumbar fusion. Despite multiple studies, the fusion method that minimizes the need for subsequent surgery has yet to be determined. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective cohort study was conducted on 89 patients who had an isolated L4/5 decompression and fusion, from January 2006 to 2012. All patients had stenosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis at the L4/5 level. All surgeries were performed at a single center, using either PLF (31 patients) or PLF+TLIF (58 patients) techniques. Preoperative and postoperative patient-reported outcome measures (Oswestry disability index, visual analog scale back pain, visual analog scale leg pain) and radiographic parameters (L4/5 lordosis and overall lumbar lordosis) were measured. Patient satisfaction was acquired via a questionnaire. Chart reviews and patient questionnaires were used to determine the incidence of subsequent lumbar surgery over a minimum follow-up of 5 years. RESULTS: At an average of 8.7 years follow-up, 2 of 31 patients in the PLF group had subsequent lumbar surgery, compared with 16 of 58 patients in the PLF+TLIF group (6% vs. 28%; P=0.02). There were no significant differences between groups with respect to sex, age, body mass index, tobacco, perioperative measures, patient-reported outcomes, or radiographic parameters (P>0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Both PLF and PLF+TLIF are effective fusion methods for L4/5 stenosis and spondylolisthesis. In this study, patients treated with PLF were less likely to undergo a subsequent lumbar surgery. More research is needed to determine which factors influence whether PLF or PLF+TLIF should be used in these patients. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E91-E98
JournalClinical spine surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article


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