Jian Wang, Yue Zhou, Zheng Feng Zhang, Chang Qing Li, Wen Jie Zheng, Jie Liu

October 2010, Volume 19, Issue 10, pp 1780 - 1784 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-010-1404-z

First Online: 22 April 2010

Minimally invasive lumbar fusion techniques have only recently been developed. The goals of these procedures are to reduce approach-related soft tissue injury, postoperative pain and disability while allowing the surgery to be conducted in an effective manner. There have been no prospective clinical reports published on the comparison of one-level transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion in low-grade spondylolisthesis performed with an independent blade retractor system or a traditional open approach. A prospective clinical study of 85 consecutive cases of degenerative and isthmic lower grade spondylolisthesis treated by minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MiTLIF) or open transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (OTLIF) was done. A total of 85 patients suffering from degenerative spondylolisthesis (n = 46) and isthmic spondylolisthesis (n = 39) underwent one-level MiTLIF (n = 42) and OTLIF (n = 43) by two experienced surgeons at one hospital, from June 2006 to March 2008 (minimum 13-month follow-up). The following data were compared between the two groups: the clinical and radiographic results, operative time, blood loss, transfusion needs, X-ray exposure time, postoperative back pain, length of hospital stay, and complications. Clinical outcome was assessed using the visual analog scale (VAS) and the Oswestry disability index. The operative time, clinical and radiographic results were basically identical in both groups. Comparing with the OTLIF group, the MiTLIF group had significantly lesser blood loss, lesser need for transfusion, lesser postoperative back pain, and shorter length of hospital stay. The radiation time was significantly longer in MiTLIF group. One case of nonunion was observed from each group. Minimally invasive TLIF has similar surgical efficacy with the traditional open TLIF in treating one-level lower grade degenerative or isthmic spondylolisthesis. The minimally invasive technique offers several potential advantages including smaller incisions, less tissue trauma and quicker recovery. However, this technique needs longer X-ray exposure time.

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