Indirect Decompression of Lumbar Stenosis With Transpsoas Interbody Cages and Percutaneous Posterior Instrumentation

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The minimally invasive lateral transpsoas retroperitoneal approach to address lumbar stenosis offers advantages to traditional approaches, including sparing of the AP annulus and longitudinal ligament and less risk to the peritoneal contents and retroperitoneal vascular structures. Few studies have presented longitudinal measures of radiographic indirect decompression and relief of pain and restoration of function using the lateral approach to spine fusion.


We determined (1) whether radiographic measures suggestive of decompression were achieved after surgery and maintained 1 year after surgery, (2) whether the intervention resulted in sustained improvements in patient-reported outcomes scores 1 year after surgery, and (3) the frequency of pseudarthrosis on CT scans at 1 year after surgery in patients with moderate or severe lumbar stenosis treated with the approach.


Between 2008 and 2012, 158 patients were surgically treated to alleviate symptoms associated with degenerative lumbar stenosis, of whom 60 (38%) were treated with lateral lumbar interbody fusion. Of these 60 patients, 36 (60%) received CT scans preoperatively and at 1-year postoperatively and were available for radiographic analysis. Of the 60 treated patients, 16 (27%) were lost to followup before 12 months, leaving the records of 44 patients available for review of patient-reported improvements in pain and return to function. Radiographic increases in disc height, foraminal area, and canal area were measured by one observer on CT scans postoperatively and at 1 year and compared to preoperative values. Patient-reported scores, including VAS pain score and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), were collected preoperatively and at 3 and 12 months postoperatively.


Increases in disc height (67%, p < 0.001), foraminal area (24%-31%, p < 0.001), and canal area (7%, p = 0.011) measured immediately postoperatively were sustained at 1-year followup. VAS pain score and ODI both improved (p < 0.001) at 3 months and were maintained at 1 year. No pseudarthroses were noted radiographically.


The lateral transpsoas approach to interbody fusion is capable of sustaining indirect decompression of the neural structures and resolving preoperative claudication and radiculopathy. A larger series of patients with longer followup should be studied to substantiate these early clinical results.

Level of Evidence

Level IV, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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