Study design: Review article.
Objectives: To provide an overview of current techniques for minimally invasive lumbar fusion.
Summary of background data: Minimally invasive techniques have revolutionized the management of pathologic conditions in various surgical disciplines. Although these same principles have been used in the treatment of lumbar disc disease for many years, minimally invasive lumbar fusion procedures have only recently been developed. The goals of these procedures are to reduce the approach-related morbidity associated with traditional lumbar fusion, yet allow the surgery to be performed in an effective and safe manner.
Methods: The authors' clinical experience with minimally invasive lumbar fusion was reviewed, and the pertinent literature was surveyed.
Results: Minimally invasive approaches have been developed for common lumbar procedures such as anterior and posterior interbody fusion, posterolateral onlay fusion, and internal fixation. As with all new surgical techniques, minimally invasive lumbar fusion has a learning curve. As well, there are benefits and disadvantages associated with each technique. However, because these techniques are new and evolving, evidence to support their potential benefits is largely anecdotal. Additionally, there are few long-term studies to document clinical outcomes.
Conclusions: Preliminary clinical results suggest that minimally invasive lumbar fusion will have a beneficial impact on the care of patients with spinal disorders. Outcome studies with long-term follow-up will be necessary to validate its success and allow minimally invasive lumbar fusion to become more widely accepted.