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Eur Spine J. 1996;5(5):299-307.

Standardized evaluation of long-term results after anterior lumbar interbody fusion.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany.


A total of 113 patients, excluding those with tumor, spondylitis, and idiopathic scoliosis, underwent anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) with autologous iliac crest graft between 1984 and 1991 at our department. The proportion of these who were failed back patients was higher than that reported in the literature. Evaluation of functional outcome was feasible in 80 patients, utilizing Oswestry and Marburg scores, which were closely intercorrelated. The overall results yielded an improvement in the Oswestry score of 35.7 percentage points. A subset of 52 patients who were evaluated twice, showed the same results at an average of 6.6 years as they did at 2.3 years following surgery. Functional results showed a weak correlation with postoperative height loss of the intervertebral space. Influencing factors for the functional result were: postoperative compensation claim, age, and obesity. Of the professional people involved, 19.4% did not return to any occupation. Patients satisfied with the result had significantly greater functional improvement. Younger patients with additional dorsal distraction prior to ALIF for reduction of severe spondylolisthesis fared better than patients with ALIF alone. The rate of complications was low and did not contribute to the postoperative functional result. On the basis of these results further prospective studies have been designed and are currently underway.

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