Free Editor Choice: Surgical Outcomes for Minimally Invasive vs Open Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion


BACKGROUND: Minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF)—or MI-TLIF—has been increasing in prevalence compared with open TLIF (O-TLIF) procedures. The use of MI-TLIF is an evolving technique with conflicting reports in the literature about outcomes.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the impact of MI-TLIF in comparison with O-TLIF for early and late outcomes by using the Visual Analog Scale for back pain (VAS-back) and the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Secondary end points include blood loss, operative time, radiation exposure, length of stay, fusion rates, and complications between the 2 procedures.

METHODS: During August 2014, a systematic literature search was performed identifying 987 articles. Of these, 30 met inclusion criteria. A random-effects meta-analysis was performed by using both pooled and subset analyses based on study type.

RESULTS: Our meta-analysis demonstrated that MI-TLIF reduced blood loss (P < .001), length of stay (P < .001), and complications (P = .001) but increased radiation exposure (P < .001). No differences were found in fusion rate (P = .61) and operative time (P = .34). A decrease in late VAS-back scores was demonstrated for MI TLIF (P < .001), but no differences were found in early VAS-back, early ODI, and late ODI.

CONCLUSION: MI-TLIF is associated with reduced blood loss, decreased length of stay, decreased complication rates, and increased radiation exposure. The rates of fusion and operative time are similar between MI-TLIF and O-TLIF. Differences in long-term outcomes in MI-TLIF vs O-TLIF are inconclusive and require more research, particularly in the form of large, multi-institutional prospective randomized controlled trials.


From “Surgical Outcomes for Minimally Invasive vs Open Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-analysis” by Khan, et al.


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