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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1997 Mar 15;22(6):691-9; discussion 700.

A new microsurgical technique for minimally invasive anterior lumbar interbody fusion.

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Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Oskar-Helene-Heim, Germany.



A series of patients were prospectively studied to determine the morbidity and possible complications of minimally invasive anterior lumbar interbody fusion by two new microsurgical approaches (retroperitoneal for segments L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5, and transperitoneal for L5-S1).


To investigate the feasibility of performing an anterior lumbar interbody fusion through a 4-cm skin incision and a standardized muscle-splitting approach.


The utility of anterior lumbar interbody fusion with or without posterior instrumentation for the treatment of various degenerative or postoperative lesions associated with low back pain is still a matter of debate. Regardless of the indications for surgery, use of the anterior approach in the lumbar spine is known to be associated with considerable surgical trauma, a high postoperative morbidity, and, occasionally, unacceptably high complication rates. Laparoscopic anterior interbody fusion of L5-S1 to eliminate some of these problems has been recently described. However, a minimally invasive surgical concept that covers all lumbar segments from L2 to S1 has not been described before now.


A standardized, microsurgical retroperitoneal approach to levels L2-L3, L3-L4, and L4-L5 and a microsurgical transperitoneal approach through a "minilaparotomy" to L5-S1 are described. The first 25 patients (retroperitoneal, n = 20; transperitoneal, n = 5) treated with these methods are evaluated with respect to intraoperative data such as blood loss, operating time, intraoperative and postoperative complications, as well as preliminary fusion results.


There were no general or technique-related complications in the first series of 25 patients. Postoperative morbidity was low in all patients, with negligible wound pain. Average blood loss was 67.8 ml for the retroperitoneal technique and 168 ml for the transperitoneal approach. No blood transfusion was necessary. All patients showed solid bony fusion.


The microsurgical approaches described in this article are atraumatic techniques to reach the lumbar spinal levels L2-L3, L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1. They represent microsurgical modifications of the surgical approaches well known to the spine surgeon. They can be learned in a step-by-step fashion, starting with a conventional skin incision and, once the surgeon is familiar with the instruments, moving on to the microsurgical technique. The approaches are not restricted to the type of fusion (iliac crest autograft) presented in this series.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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