Adjacent segmental degeneration following Wallis interspinous stabilization implantation: Biomechanical explanations and the value of magnetic resonance imaging

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Adjacent segmental degeneration (ASD) is a major issue after pedicular fixation. This study examined the degeneration of the adjacent levels due to the insertion of the Wallis interspinous stabilization system compared with discectomy, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Thirty-eight patients diagnosed with lumbar degeneration disorders at L4-L5 were reviewed: 19 patients underwent discectomy and Wallis system implantation (group A), and 19 patients underwent discectomy (group B). The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were assessed preoperatively and postoperatively. ASD was evaluated by MRI.

There was no difference in the preoperative ODI scores between the 2 groups (non-normal distribution, median, 50 (40, 50) vs 50 (50, 50), P = .331), but the postoperative ODI scores were different (non-normal distribution, median, 0 (0, 32) vs 20 (20, 30), P < .005). Similar results were observed for VAS. In group A, ASD occurred in 4 patients (21.1%) in the disc and 8 (42.1%) in the facet joint at L3/4, and in 4 (21.1%) in the disc and 5 (26.3%) in the facet joint at L5/S1. In Group B, ASD occurred in 3 patients (15.8%) in the disc at L3/4, and in 4 (21.1%) in the disc at L5/S1. In general, there was no difference between the 2 groups (P > .05), except at L3/4 (P = .015).

ASD of the facet joint in the cranial segment occurred after Wallis system implantation, suggesting that the Wallis system cannot prevent ASD of the facet joint, but could have some other benefits for the discs.

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