Objective: Surgical treatment of lumbosacral foraminal stenosis requires an understanding of the anatomy of the lumbosacral area in individual patients. Unilateral facetectomy has been used to completely decompress entrapment of the L5 nerve root, followed in some patients by posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) with stand-alone cages.
Methods: We assessed 34 patients with lumbosacral foraminal stenosis who were treated with unilateral facetectomy and PLIF using stand-alone cages in our center from January 2004 to September 2007. All the patients underwent follow-up X-rays, including a dynamic view, at 3, 6, 12, 24 months, and computed tomography (CT) at 24 months postoperatively. Clinical outcomes were analyzed with the mean numeric rating scale (NRS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and Odom's criteria. Radiological outcomes were assessed with change of disc height, defined as the average of anterior, middle, and posterior height in plain X-rays. In addition, lumbosacral fusion was also assessed with dynamic X-ray and CT.
Results: Mean NRS score, which was 9.29 prior to surgery, was 1.5 at 18 months after surgery. The decrease in NRS was statistically significant. Excellent and good groups with regard to Odom's criteria were 31 cases (91%) and three cases (9%) were fair. Pre-operative mean ODI of 28.4 decreased to 14.2 at post-operative 24 months. In 30 patients, a bone bridge on CT scan was identified. The change in disc height was 8.11 mm, 10.02 mm and 9.63 mm preoperatively, immediate postoperatively and at 24 months after surgery, respectively.
Conclusion: In the treatment of lumbosacral foraminal stenosis, unilateral facetectomy and interbody fusion using expandable stand-alone cages may be considered as one treatment option to maintain post-operative alignment and to obtain satisfactory clinical outcomes.
Keywords: Expandable cage; Foraminal stenosis; Lumbosacral spine.