Decompression of Lumbar Central Spinal Canal Stenosis Following Minimally Invasive Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion

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Clin Spine Surg


STUDY DESIGN: This was a retrospective clinical series.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate radiologic changes in central spinal canal dimensions following minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) with placement of a static or an expandable interbody device.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: MIS-TLIF is used to treat lumbar degenerative diseases and low-grade spondylolisthesis. MIS-TLIF enables direct and indirect decompression of lumbar spinal stenosis, with patients experiencing relief from radiculopathy and neurogenic claudication. However, the effects of MIS-TLIF on the central spinal canal are not well-characterized.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We identified patients who underwent MIS-TLIF for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis and concurrent moderate to severe spinal stenosis. We selected patients who had both preoperative and postoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and upright lateral radiographs of the lumbar spine. Measurements on axial T2-weighted MRI scans include anteroposterior and transverse dimensions of the dural sac and osseous spinal canal. Measurements on radiographs include disk height, neural foraminal height, segmental lordosis, and spondylolisthesis. We made pairwise comparisons between each of the central canal dimensions and lumbar sagittal segmental radiologic outcome measures relative to their corresponding preoperative values. Correlation coefficients were used to quantify the association between changes in lumbar sagittal segmental parameters relative to changes in radiologic outcomes of central canal dimensions. Statistical analysis was performed for "all patients" and further stratified by interbody device subgroups (static and expandable).

RESULTS: Fifty-one patients (age 60.4 y, 68.6% female) who underwent MIS-TLIF at 55 levels (65.5% at L4-L5) were included in the analysis. Expandable interbody devices were used in 45/55 (81.8%) levels. Mean duration from surgery to postoperative MRI scan was 16.5 months (SD 11.9). MIS-TLIF was associated with significant improvements in dural sac dimensions (anteroposterior +0.31 cm, transverse +0.38 cm) and osseous spinal canal dimensions (anteroposterior +0.16 cm, transverse +0.32 cm). Sagittal lumbar segmental parameters of disk height (+0.56 cm), neural foraminal height (+0.35 cm), segmental lordosis (+4.26 degrees), and spondylolisthesis (-7.5%) were also improved following MIS-TLIF. We did not find meaningful associations between the changes in central canal dimensions relative to the corresponding changes in any of the sagittal lumbar segmental parameters. Stratified analysis by interbody device type (static and expandable) revealed similar within-group changes as in the overall cohort and minimal between-group differences.

CONCLUSIONS: MIS-TLIF is associated with radiologic decompression of neural foraminal and central spinal canal stenosis. The mechanism for neural foraminal and central canal decompression is likely driven by a combination of direct and indirect corrective techniques.

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ePub ahead of print