Han Gengyu, Dai Jinyue, Gong Chunjie, Zhang Bo, Jiang Yu, Li Jiaming, Li Weishi

February 2022, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 364 - 379 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-07052-3

First Online: 12 November 2021

The predictive value of preoperative paraspinal muscle morphometry on complications after lumbar surgery: a systematic review


The effect of paraspinal muscles atrophy and fat infiltration (FI) on the complications of spinal surgery has not been established.


A review of the literature was conducted from a search of the PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science databases from inception through January 2021. The literature was searched and assessed by independent reviewers based on criteria that included an assessment of preoperative paraspinal muscle morphology in addition to measuring its relationship to surgical complications. All relevant papers were assessed for risk of bias according to the modified Newcastle Ottawa Scale and the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Tools. A narrative synthesis was conducted.


The initial search yielded 5632 studies, of which 16 studies were included in the analysis. All included studies were at a low risk of bias. There existed strong evidence that the atrophy and FI of paraspinal muscles had an association with the development of bone nonunion (two high quality studies), pedicle screw loosening (two high quality studies), adjacent segment degeneration (three high quality studies) and proximal junctional kyphosis (five high quality studies) after lumbar surgery. Besides, there is also limited evidence for association between atrophy and FI of paraspinal extensor muscles and less local and global curve improvement.


Strong evidence was found for an association between preoperative paraspinal muscle degeneration and multiple postoperative complications after lumbar surgery. However, the findings should be interpreted with caution due to the small quantity of the available literature and high heterogeneity among studies.

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