Adjacent segment disease (ASD) is an important consideration during decision making for lumbar spinal fusion.
To identify risk factors for development of ASD after L4-L5 fusion and differences in incidence between rostral and caudal ASD.
We retrospectively reviewed all consecutive patients at a single institution who underwent first-time spinal fusion at the L4-L5 level for degenerative spinal disease over a 10-yr period, using posterolateral pedicular screw fixation with or without posterior interbody fusion. ASD was defined as clinical and radiographic evidence of degenerative spinal disease requiring reoperation at the level rostral (L3-L4) or caudal (L5-S1) to the index fusion.
Among 131 identified patients, the incidence of ASD requiring reoperation was 25.2% (n = 33). Twenty-four cases (18.3% of the entire cohort) developed rostral ASD (segment L3-L4), 3 cases (2.3%) developed caudal (L5-S1), and 6 cases (4.6%) developed bilateral ASD (both rostral and caudal). Cumulatively, the incidence of caudal ASD was significantly lower than rostral ASD (P < .001). Following multivariate logistic regression for factors associated with ASD reoperation, decompression of segments outside the fusion construct was associated with higher ASD rates (odds ratio [OR] = 2.68, P = .039), as was female gender (OR = 3.55, P = .011), whereas older age was associated with lower ASD incidence (OR = 0.95, P = .011).
When considering posterior L4-L5 fusion, surgeons should refrain from prophylactic procedures in the L5-S1 level, without clinical indications, because ASD incidence on that segment is reassuringly low.