To assess the long-term prevalence of vertebral fractures after lumbar spinal fusion with instrumentation.
Summary of Background Data.
The incidence of the adjacent and the nonadjacent, remote level subsequent vertebral fractures after lumbar spinal fusion is not well described in the literature.
The study is a retrospective analysis of 100 consecutive patients of 55 years of age or older with spinal fusion for degenerative diseases between L1 and S1, and instrumentation for less than 4 segments. Patients with prevalent vertebral fractures defined at the time of surgery, or patients with secondary causes of osteoporosis were excluded. Mean follow-up period was 10.2 years (range, 7–14 years). Acute vertebral fractures were determined by magnetic resonance imaging and lateral spine radiographs.
Acute vertebral fractures were determined in 20 vertebrae in 14 (24%) of the 59 female patients, whereas 1 male patient (2%) had 1 vertebral fracture during the follow-up period. Eighteen of the 21 fractures occurred within 2 years of the spinal instrumentation surgery. Regarding time to fracture occurrence after surgery, adjacent level fractures occurred within 8 months, and remote level fractures occurred between 8 and 22 months after surgery.
Postmenopausal female patients who underwent lumbar spinal instrumentation surgery were susceptible to develop subsequent vertebral fractures within 2 years after surgery. The greater the number of spinal segments between the fracture and the instrumentation was, the longer the time after surgery.