Background: Treatment by posterolateral fusion (PLF) with pedicle-screw instrumentation can be unsuccessful in one-segment and low-grade lumbar spondylolisthesis. Segmental kyphosis, either rigid or dynamic, was hypothesized to be one of the factors interfering with the fusion results.
Methods: From 2004 to 2005, 239 patients with single-segment and low-grade spondylolisthesis were recruited and divided into two groups: Group 1 consisting of 129 patients without segmental kyphosis and group 2 consisting of 110 patients with segmental kyphosis. All patients underwent instrumented PLF at the same medical institute, and the average follow-up period was 31 ± 19 months. We obtained plain radiographs of the lumbosacral spine with the anteroposterior view, the lateral view, and the dynamic flexion-extension views before the operation and during the follow-ups. The results of PLF in the two groups were then compared.
Results: There was no significant difference in the demographic data of the two groups, except for gender distribution. The osseous fusion rates were 90.7% in group 1 and 68.2% in group 2 (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Instrumented PLF resulted in significantly higher osseous fusion rate in patients without segmental kyphosis than in the patients with segmental kyphosis. For the patients with sagittal imbalance, such as rigid or dynamic kyphosis, pedicle-screw fixation cannot ensure successful PLF. Interbody fusion by the posterior lumbar interbody fusion or transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion technique might help overcome this problem.