Anteroinferior Psoas Technique for Oblique Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion: Technical Note and Case Series


The aim of the present paper was to evaluate cases of lumbar degenerative diseases treated with oblique lateral interbody fusion (OLIF) using a modified lateral approach (i.e. anteroinferior psoas exposure under direct vision) and to analyze the effect and safety of this approach.


From June 2016 to April 2019, a total of 226 patients with an average age of 65.5 ± 16.2 years (98 men and 128 women) with degenerative lumbar diseases who underwent the AIP approach of OLIF were followed up and analyzed retrospectively. Data concerning operative and clinical parameters were collected, including operative time, intraoperative estimated blood loss, duration of postoperative hospital stay, and time to ambulation after surgery. For the assessment of clinical outcomes, the visual analogue scale (VAS) score (for back pain) and the Oswestry disability index (ODI) were calculated. Complications were also recorded as surgical exposure approach-related complications. More than 6 months after surgery, 132 patients consented to having MRI examinations to evaluate the psoas muscle atrophy when they were followed up.


The mean operative time was 82.5 ± 31.6 min. The mean operative time for each segment of OLIF was 43.3 ± 15.5 min. The mean blood loss was 48.0 ± 11.6 mL. The mean blood loss for each segment of OLIF was 25.3 ± 10.1 mL. No patients needed blood transfusion intraoperatively or postoperatively. The mean hospital stay was 4.1 ± 2.1 days. All patients were followed up for 12-31 months (mean 18.2 months). Clinical assessment showed that the VAS and ODI scores at 6 months after surgery were markedly lower than the preoperative scores (P < 0.001) but did not differ from the scores at the final follow-up (P > 0.05). There was no significant difference in percentage changes of the cross-sectional area of the lean psoas muscle and the T2 signal intensity ratio of gross psoas to quadratus lumborum muscles between the left side (operative side) and the right side (nonoperative side) (P > 0.05). A total of 11 surgical exposure approach-related complications were reported, with an incidence of 4.9%: transient thigh pain/numbness, psoas weakness (2.2%), sympathetic chain injury (1.3%), cage subsidence (0.9%), and segmental artery injury (0.4%). There was no permanent motor neurological deficit, and no injury of vascular, ureter or peritoneal membranes.


The anteroinferior psoas approach for OLIF is safe and can preserve the psoas and lumbar plexus.


Anteroinferior; Atrophy; Lumbar; Oblique lateral interbody fusion; Psoas.

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