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Neurosurgery. 2002 Nov;51(5 Suppl):S166-81.

Minimally invasive percutaneous posterior lumbar interbody fusion.

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Institute for Spine Care, Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch, Rush Presbyterian Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, USA.



The wide exposure required for a standard posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) can cause unnecessary trauma to the lumbar musculoligamentous complex. By combining existing microendoscopic, percutaneous instrumentation and interbody technologies, a novel, minimally invasive, percutaneous PLIF technique was developed to minimize such iatrogenic tissue injury (MIP-PLIF).


The MIP-PLIF technique was validated in three cadaveric torsos with six motion segments decompressed and fused. Preoperative variables measured from imaging included interpedicular distance, pedicular height and width, interspinous distance, lordosis, intervertebral height, Cobb angle, and foraminal height and volume. Using the METRx and MD spinal access systems (Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Memphis, TN), bilateral laminotomies were performed using a hybrid of microsurgical and microendoscopic techniques. The intervertebral disc spaces were then distracted and prepared with the Tangent (Medtronic Sofamor Danek) interbody instruments. Either a 10 or 12 by 22 mm interbody graft was then placed. Using the Sextant (Medtronic Sofamor Danek) system, percutaneous pedicle screw-rod fixation of the motion segment was completed. We then applied MIP-PLIF in three patients.


For segments with preoperative intervertebral/foraminal height loss, MIP-PLIF was effective in restoring both heights in all cases. The amount of improvement (9.7 to 38% disc height increase; 7.7 to 29.9% foraminal height increase) varied directly with the size of the graft used and the original degree of disc and foraminal height loss. Segmental lordosis improved by 29% on average. Graft and screw placement was accurate in the cadavers, except for a single Grade 1 screw violation of one pedicle. The average operative time was 3.5 hours per level. In our three clinical cases, the MIP-PLIF procedure required a mean of 5.4 hours, estimated blood loss was 185 ml, and inpatient stay was 2.8 days, with no intravenous narcotic use after 2 days in any of the patients. All screw and graft placements were confirmed.


A complete PLIF procedure can be safely and effectively performed using minimally invasive techniques, thereby potentially reducing the pain and morbidity associated with standard open surgery. Prospective, randomized outcome studies will be required to validate the efficacy of this exciting new surgical technique.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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