Study design: Eighteen patients with lumbar instability from fractures, postlaminectomy syndrome, or infection were treated prospectively with minimally invasive retroperitoneal lumbar fusions.
Objectives: To determine if interbody Bagby and Kuslich fusion cages and femoral allograft bone dowels can be inserted in a transverse direction via a lateral endoscopic retroperitoneal approach to achieve spinal stability.
Summary of background data: Endoscopic spinal approaches have been used to achieve lower lumbar fusion when instrumentation is placed through a laparoscopic, transperitoneal route. However, complications of using this approach include postoperative intra-abdominal adhesions, retrograde ejaculation, great vessel injury, and implant migration. This study is the first clinical series investigating the use of the lateral retroperitoneal minimally invasive approach for lumbar fusions from L1 to L5.
Methods: Eighteen patients underwent anterior interbody decompression and/or stabilization via endoscopic retroperitoneal approaches. In most cases, three 12-mm portals were used. Two parallel transverse interbody cages restored the neuroforaminal height and the desired amount of lumbar lordosis was achieved by inserting a larger anterior cage, distraction plug, or bone dowel.
Results: The overall morbidity of the procedure was lower than that associated with traditional “open” retroperitoneal or laparotomy techniques, with a mean length of hospital stay of 2.9 days (range, outpatient procedure to 5 days). The mean estimated intraoperative blood loss was 205 cc (range, 25-1000 cc). There were no cases of implant migration, significant subsidence, or pseudoarthrosis at mean follow-up examination of 24.3 months (range, 12-40 months) after surgery.
Conclusions: This preliminary study of 18 patients illustrates that endoscopic techniques can be applied effectively through a retroperitoneal approach with the patient in the lateral position. Unlike the patients who had undergone transperitoneal procedures described in previous reports, in these preliminary 18 patients, there were no cases of retrograde ejaculation, injury to the great vessels, or implant migration.
Citation: McAfee PC, Regan JJ, Geis WP, Fedder IL. Minimally invasive anterior retroperitoneal approach to the lumbar spine. Emphasis on the lateral BAK. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1998 Jul 1;23(13):1476-84. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199807010-00009. PMID: 9670400.