Objectives: Posterior lumbar fixation with translaminar facet screws is a minimally invasive technique with good success rates. Long-term follow-ups show reduced reoperation rates, a decrease in pain scores, and few complications compared with pedicle screw fixation devices. The purpose of this study was to compare the reoperation rate of translaminar facet screw fixation with that of pedicle screw fixation in 360 degrees anterior and posterior fusions for incapacitating low back pain due to lumbar disc degeneration unresponsive to at least 6 months of aggressive nonoperative treatment.
Methods: One hundred five patients underwent a combined circumferential lumbar fusion with posterior fixation for discogenic pain by one surgeon between August 1993 and February 2003. Seventeen patients were excluded from the study owing to their preoperative etiology for fusion or a prior instrumented posterior fusion. A retrospective chart review was done on all 88 remaining patients. Patients were followed in the office, by phone, or by mail to obtain functional outcome measures. Any subsequent operations by this surgeon or another were recorded. The comparison focused on the rate of reoperation on the region of posterior lumbar fixation.
Results: Sixty-seven patients have had at least a 2-year follow-up. Twenty-four patients had a posterior fusion with pedicle screws, and 43 had translaminar facet screw fixation. Nine patients of the pedicle screw population (37.5%) had a reoperation to remove their instrumentation. Two patients of the translaminar facet screw population (4.7%) had reoperations on their lumbar spine. There was a significant association between posterior instrumentation type and reoperation (P = 0.001).
Conclusion: The success of translaminar facet screws in circumferential fusions is justified.