Katsuhisa Yamada, Ken Nagahama, Yuichiro Abe, Yoshinori Hyugaji, Masahiko Takahata, Norimasa Iwasaki

August 2021, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 2191 - 2199 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06916-y

First Online: 03 July 2021


We developed a software program that automatically extracts a three-dimensional (3D) lumbar nerve root image from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lumbar nerve volume data using artificial intelligence. The aim of this study is to evaluate the morphology of Kambin's triangle in three dimensions based on an actual endoscopic transforaminal surgical approach using three-dimensional (3D) computed tomography (CT)/ magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) fusion images of the lumbar spine and nerve tissue.


Three-dimensional lumbar spine/nerve images of 100 patients (31 males and 69 females; mean age, 66.8 years) were used to evaluate the relationship between the superior articular process (SAP), exiting nerve root (ENR), and dural canal at the L2/3, L3/4, and L4/5 levels at 45° and 60° approach angles.


The SAP-ENR distance at 60° was the greatest at L4/5 and was significantly greater at L2/3 and L4/5 than at L3/4 (P < 0.01, P < 0.01, respectively). The SAP-ENR distance at 45° was the greatest at L2/3, and it was larger in L2/3 and L4/5 than in L3/4 (P < 0.01, P < 0.01, respectively). The SAP-ENR distances at L4/5 were significantly greater at 60° than at 45° (P < 0.01). The dural canal was located within Kambin's triangle on the plane of the upper endplate of the lower vertebra at L2/3 in 41.5% of the cases and at L3/4 in 14% of the cases at 60° but not at L4/5.


The 3D lumbar spine/nerve image enabled a combined assessment of the positional relationship between the SAP, ENR, and dural canal to quantify the safety zone of practical endoscopic spinal surgery using a transforaminal approach. Three-dimensional lumbar spine/nerve images could be useful for examining parameters, including bones and nerves, to ensure the safety of surgery.

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