Minimally Invasive versus Open Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion: A Systematic Review

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Although conventional open posterior lumbar interbody fusion (open PLIF) is efficacious in management of lumbar spinal instability, concerns exist regarding lengthy hospital stays, blood loss, and postoperative complications. Minimally invasive posterior lumbar interbody fusion (MIS PLIF) may be able to address these concerns, but the research on this topic has not been systematically reviewed.


We performed a systematic review to determine whether MIS PLIF or open PLIF results in (1) better perioperative parameters, including blood loss, operative times, and length of hospital stay; (2) improved patient-reported outcome scores; and (3) improved disc distraction and (4) frequency of reoperation and complications when compared with open PLIF procedures.


A literature search of the MEDLINE database identified seven studies that met our inclusion criteria. A total of seven articles were included; quality was assessed using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomised Studies (MINORS) scale. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the included articles.


In most studies, MIS PLIF was associated with decreased blood loss and shorter hospital stay but longer operative times. MIS PLIF resulted in better patient-related outcomes when compared with open PLIF in two studies in the short term, but most of the studies in this review found no short-term differences, and there was no difference at long-term followup in any studies. There was no significant difference in disc distraction. Both techniques appeared to have similar complication rates and reoperation rates.


Based on the available evidence, which we restricted to prospective and retrospective studies with control groups, but did not include any well-designed randomized trials, MIS PLIF might lead to better perioperative parameters, but there was little evidence for improved patient-reported outcomes in the MIS groups. Randomized controlled trials are needed to compare these two surgical techniques.

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