Factors associated with hardware failure after lateral thoracolumbar fusions - A ten year case series

Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2023 Jan:224:107564. doi: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2022.107564. Epub 2022 Dec 21.


Objective: Thoracolumbar lateral interbody fusions (tLLIF) are one tool in the spine surgeon's toolbox to indirectly decompress neuroforamina while also improving segmental lordosis in a biomechanically distinct manner from posterior fusions. When part of a concomitant posterior construct, hardware failure (HF), sometimes requiring revision surgery, can occur. We sought to study the relationship between tLLIF and HF.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective study on consecutive patents who underwent tLLIF at a single academic center between January 2012 and December 2021 by seven unique neurosurgeons. Patients were excluded if they had no posterior instrumentation within their construct or if they had less than six months of follow-up. Hardware failure was defined as screw breakage or rod fracture seen on postoperative imaging.

Results: 232 patients were identified; 6 (2.6 %) developed HF throughout a mean follow-up of 1182 days (range =748-1647 days). Adjacent segment disease was the most common pathology addressed (75 patients (32.3 %)). The amount of posterior instrumentation both in the surgery in question and in the total construct were significantly higher in the HF cohort (4.33 ± 1.52 levels, 5.83 ± 3.36 levels) versus the non-HF cohort (2.08 ± 0.296 levels, p = 0.014; 2.86 ± 0.316 levels, p = 0.003, respectively). The number of interbody devices added in the index surgery and in the entire construct were both significantly higher in the HF cohort (3.33 ± 0.666 interbody devices, 3.33 ± 0.666 devices) than in the non-HF cohort (1.88 ± 0.152 interbody devices, p = 0.002; 2.31 ± 0.158 devices, p = 0.036, respectively). Higher amounts of lateral levels of fusion approached significance for association with HF (HF: 2.67 ± 0.844 levels, no HF: 1.73 ± 1.26 levels, p = 0.076). On multivariate analysis, only the number of interbody devices added in the index surgery was predictive of HF (Odds ratio=2.3, 95 % confidence interval=1.25-4.23, p = 0.007).

Conclusion: Greater levels of posterior fusion, and greater numbers of interbody devices in an index surgery and in a construct as a whole, were associated with higher rates of HF in our cohort of patients with tLLIF. Greater numbers of lateral segments fused in this population may also be related to HF.

Keywords: Deformity surgery; Hardware failure; Lateral fusion; Rod fracture; Screw break.

MeSH terms

  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lordosis* / surgery
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fusion* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome