A recent study published in the February 2014 issue of the journal Spine found improved long-term outcomes for patients with debilitating back pain who underwent minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MITLIF). The research team, based at Oakland University in Royal Oak, Michigan, followed a group of 304 patients to examine their short- and long-term prognoses following this procedure.
Given that many minimally invasive spine surgery procedures are relatively new, there has been relatively little research done that looks at the effects of these surgeries over time. At the same time, the number of minimally invasive procedures performed in the U.S. continues to rapidly grow. This new study, which was performed at an outpatient spine clinic, provides valuable new data.
Before the operations, patients who participated in the study were diagnosed from physical evaluations and radiographical scans. Their postoperative prognoses were also assessed before the surgeries. Following the procedures, the researchers followed up with the patients 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years afterward, continuing up to 7 years after the procedure (on average, patients were assessed for up to 4 years). Researchers checked up on postoperative complications and reoperations, and patients’ fusion rates were assessed independently.
In examining their longitudinal data, the researchers found statistically significant improvements in aggregate for the group of 304 patients. This was true of patients who underwent MITLIF with clinically symptomatic spondylolisthesis and degenerative disc disease, with or without also suffering from stenosis. They found that MITLIF resulted in a high rate of successful spinal fusion, and encountered low rates of interbody fusion failure, postoperative complications, and reoperations.
This important study provides valuable data for prospective patients who are concerned about whether lumbar fusion will provide relief, and what their prognosis will look like not just in the short-term, but in the years to come. While each individual patient’s case is unique and no outlook is guaranteed, this study adds to the evidence that people who are candidates for minimally invasive lumbar fusion can use to better understand the procedure.
Curious to learn more? You can read the whole study online:
“Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion Based on Long-term Analysis of 304 Consecutive Patients”