Study Design. A prospective study was performed.
Objective. To test the hypothesis that different pedicle screw insertion positions would increase the likelihood of superior adjacent segment degeneration (ASD).
Summary of Background Data. Lumbar fusion surgery is a widely accepted treatment of lumbar diseases, such as lumbar stenosis, trauma, tumor, and spondylolisthesis. Fusion and clinical success rates have increased because of improvements in instrumentation and bone graft material. In contrast, numerous complications and problems of fusion surgery have been reported, with ASD being one of the most important.
Methods. This prospective study included 210 patients with low-grade isthmic spondylolisthesis. From January 1999 to December 2003, patients were randomized underwent posterolateral fusion using 2 different pedicle screw insertion positions. The patients were followed up postoperatively and were assessed with regard to radiological and clinical outcomes. Radiological outcomes were assessed mainly on the basis of disc degeneration, facet joint degeneration, and bone fusion. Clinical outcomes were evaluated mainly with the use of visual analogue scale for pain and the Oswestry Disability Index.
Results. A total of 178 of 210 (84.7%) patients were available for at least 9-year radiological and clinical follow-up data: 85.3% (87/102) patients in group A and 84.3% (91/108) patients in group B. Bone fusion was achieved in all patients at the last follow-up. ASD was proven in 110 (61.8%) of 178 patients. The incidences of radiographical and symptomatic ASD were 57.9% (103/178) and 3.9% (7/178), respectively. The incidence of ASD in group B was significantly lower than that in group A. Results of clinical outcomes showed lower visual analogue scale and Oswestry Disability Index scores in 2 groups than preoperative scores, but group B had greater improvement on the Oswestry Disability Index scores than group A in patients with ASD.
Conclusion. The degeneration of superior adjacent segment is closely related to the position of the pedicle screws during lumbar fusion surgery. The position of the pedicle screw farther from the facet joint surface can reduce the degeneration of superior adjacent segment.
Level of Evidence: 3