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Asian Spine J. 2012 Jun;6(2):89-97. doi: 10.4184/asj.2012.6.2.89. Epub 2012 May 31.

Complications and Morbidities of Mini-open Anterior Retroperitoneal Lumbar Interbody Fusion: Oblique Lumbar Interbody Fusion in 179 Patients.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Centre Médico-Chirurgical de Réadaptation des Massues, Lyon, France.



A retrospective study including 179 patients who underwent oblique lumbar interbody fusion (OLIF) at one institution.


To report the complications associated with a minimally invasive technique of a retroperitoneal anterolateral approach to the lumbar spine.


Different approaches to the lumbar spine have been proposed, but they are associated with an increased risk of complications and a longer operation.


A total of 179 patients with previous posterior instrumented fusion undergoing OLIF were included. The technique is described in terms of: the number of levels fused, operative time and blood loss. Persurgical and postsurgical complications were noted.


Patients were age 54.1 ± 10.6 with a BMI of 24.8 ± 4.1 kg/m(2). The procedure was performed in the lumbar spine at L1-L2 in 4, L2-L3 in 54, L3-L4 in 120, L4-L5 in 134, and L5-S1 in 6 patients. It was done at 1 level in 56, 2 levels in 107, and 3 levels in 16 patients. Surgery time and blood loss were, respectively, 32.5 ± 13.2 minutes and 57 ± 131 ml per level fused. There were 19 patients with a single complication and one with two complications, including two patients with postoperative radiculopathy after L3-5 OLIF. There was no abdominal weakness or herniation.


Minimally invasive OLIF can be performed easily and safely in the lumbar spine from L2 to L5, and at L1-2 for selected cases. Up to 3 levels can be addressed through a 'sliding window'. It is associated with minimal blood loss and short operations, and with decreased risk of abdominal wall weakness or herniation.


Anterior approach; Interbody fusion; Lumbar spine; Minimally invasive surgery

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