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Supra-psoas Shallow Docking in Lateral Interbody Fusion

Acosta, Frank L. Jr MD; Drazin, Doniel MD; Liu, John C. MD

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318288a202
Operative Technique

BACKGROUND: Lateral interbody fusion techniques have been linked with considerable postoperative morbidity, often the outcome of direct psoas trauma. The most common neurological postoperative complications are transient motor weakness/palsy and sensory dysesthesia, which can be permanent. It appears that these neural complications are a result of passing through the psoas muscle where the potential for nerve injury is significant. The supra-psoas shallow docking method may be a safer alternative and may help minimize morbidities by eliminating or reducing direct psoas injury.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the operative technique of performing lateral interbody fusion using supra-psoas retractor docking.

METHODS: The authors describe the surgical technique including side selection, positioning, and patient outcomes.

RESULTS: Fifteen patients were treated with the supra-psoas shallow docking method. Specifically, no patient reported weakness, numbness, and/or pain on the side that underwent the surgery. In these cases, performing lateral transpsoas interbody fusion using supra-psoas shallow docking appeared to minimize the most common neurological postoperative complications of the surgery, motor weakness/palsy and sensory dysesthesia, which may be a result of dilation of the psoas muscle.

CONCLUSION: The shallow docking technique may decrease postoperative morbidities by docking on top of psoas muscle instead of passing through it. An important potential benefit of this approach is direct visualization of the lumbosacral plexus, which may potentially minimize the postoperative neurological morbidity often encountered in patients after this surgery.

ABBREVIATIONS: IP, ipsilateral psoas

Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California

Correspondence: Frank L. Acosta, Jr, MD, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048. E-mail:

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Received August 7, 2012

Accepted January 2, 2013

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons