RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Paired cylindrical interbody cage fit and facetectomy in posterior lumbar interbody fusion in an Asian population.

Spine 2001 March 2
STUDY DESIGN: The intervertebral disc heights and interfacetal distances of normal lower lumbar segments were measured from MRI scans of 150 male subjects.

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the probabilities of paired cylindrical interbody cage placement across the facet joints of the lower lumbar spine in an Asian population with respect to the spinal segmental level, facetectomy, and the restoration of normal intervertebral height.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Cylindrical interbody cage devices often require extensive facetectomy for insertion through a posterior approach in a posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) procedure. This is because the transverse dimension of a pair of cages could far exceed the interfacetal interval of the lumbar segment.

METHODS: One hundred and fifty MRI scans of the lumbosacral spine of male patients between the ages of 18 and 55 years undergoing investigation for low back pain were collected for this study. The interfacetal distances and intervertebral disc heights were measured from transverse and sagittal images, respectively, at L3/L4, L4/L5 and L5/S1. Degenerated discs were not measured. The inner, mid, and outer interfacetal distances were compared with the dimensions of paired cages of 13, 15, and 17 mm in diameter to obtain the proportion of lumbar segments at a particular spinal level that would accommodate paired cages of different diameters and under conditions of varying degrees of facetectomy.

RESULTS: Without facetectomy, there was no lumbar segment that could accommodate paired cages as well as restore intervertebral height. With hemi-facetectomy, very few segments at L3/L4 and L4/L5 could fit paired cages. At L5/S1, fewer than 9% of segments could fit paired cages and restore intervertebral heights. The proportion of segments that could accommodate paired cages increased with near-total facetectomy: 25% of L5/S1 segments could accommodate 15-mm cages with restoration of intervertebral heights.

CONCLUSIONS: Paired cylindrical cage installation in the majority of patients is likely to require near-total or total facetectomy, with implications for potential segmental instability. Among the three lumbar segments studied, L5/S1 had the highest proportion of segments that could accommodate paired cages and at the same time restore intervertebral height.

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