Takahiro Tsutsumimoto, Mitsuhiko Shimogata, Yasuo Yoshimura, Hiromichi Misawa

August 2008, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 1107 - 1112 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-008-0695-9

First Online: 01 August 2008

It has been reported that in patients undergoing posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF), the fusion status is not related to the short-term operative results. To determine whether the fusion status influences the long-term operative results of PLF, we retrospectively examined the surgical outcomes of uninstrumented PLF for a minimum of 8 years (average, 9.5 years), by comparing cases exhibiting union with those exhibiting nonunion. Uninstrumented PLF was performed for the treatment of lumbar canal stenosis (LCS) with degenerative spondylolisthesis. Since nine patients were lost to final follow-up, the study included 42 patients, and the follow-up rate was 82.4%. The mean age of the patients was 64.1 years (range 46–77 years). Eight patients exhibited fusion at the L3–4 level and 34 patients, at the L4–5 level. The fusion status was assessed using plain radiographs. The clinical outcomes were evaluated using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) scores. Nonunion was noted in 26% (11/42) of the patients. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups exhibiting union and nonunion with respect to age, sex, preoperative JOA score, or preoperative lumbar instability. The union group achieved better operative results than the nonunion group at the 5-year and final follow-up (P = 0.006 and 0.008, respectively) although there was no significant difference in the percent recovery at 1 and 3-year follow-up (P = 0.515 and 0.506, respectively). A stepwise regression analysis revealed that the best combination of predictors for percent recovery at the time of final follow-up included the fusion status and the presence of comorbid disease. The results indicate that the fusion status following PLF is a critical factor influencing the long-term but not short-term operative results in the treatment of LCS with degenerative spondylolisthesis.

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