J. S. Thalgott, A. K. Chin, J. A. Ameriks, F. T. Jordan, J. M. Giuffre, K. Fritts, M. Timlin

February 2000, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp S051 - S056 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/PL00010022

First Online: 25 February 2000

A retrospective preliminary study was undertaken of combined minimally invasive instrumented lumbar fusion utilizing the BERG (balloon-assisted endoscopic retroperitoneal gasless) approach ¶anteriorly, and a posterior small-incision approach with translaminar screw fixation and posterolateral ¶fusion. The study aimed to quantify the clinical and radiological results using this combined technique. The traditional minimally invasive approach to the anterior lumbar spine involves gas insufflation and provides reliable access only to L5-S1 and in some cases L4-5. A gas-mediated approach yields many technical drawbacks to performing spinal surgery. A minimally invasive posterior approach involving suprafascial pedicle screw instrumentation has been developed, but without widespread use. Translaminar facet fixation may be a viable alternative to transpedicular fixation in a 360° instrumented fusion model. Past studies have shown open 360° instrumented lumbar fusion yields high arthrodesis rates. The study examined the cases of 46 patients who underwent successful 360° instrumented lumbar fusion using a combined minimally invasive approach. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) at one or two levels was performed through the BERG approach; a gasless retroperitoneal approach to the lumbar spine allowing the use ¶of standard anterior instrumentation. Posteriorly, all patients underwent successful decompression, translaminar fixation, and posterolateral fusion at one or two levels through ¶one small (2.5–5.0 cm) incision. Results showed mean hospital stay of 2.02 days; mean combined blood loss was 255 cc; and mean pain relief was 56%, with 75.5% of patients reporting good, excellent, or total pain relief. Forty-two of 46 patients (93.2%) achieved a solid fusion ¶24 months after surgery. A total of 47% of all patients working prior to surgery returned to work following surgery. The study showed that minimally invasive 360° instrumented lumbar fusion, when performed utilizing these approaches, yields a high rate of solid arthrodesis (93.3%), good pain relief, short hospital stays, low blood losses, accelerated rehabilitation, and a quick return to the workforce. The BERG approach offers technical advantages over the traditional gas-mediated laparoscopic approach to the anterior lumbar spine.

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