(HealthDay News) – For patients undergoing spinal fusion by minimally-invasive lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF), the procedure is safe and effective based on a follow-up of at least two years, according to research published online Sept 6 in the Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques.

Suhel Kotwal, MD, from the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and colleagues reviewed the clinical and radiographic outcomes of 118 patients who had undergone LLIF with a minimum of two years of follow-up.

The researchers observed significant improvements in trunk or lower extremity pain (as assessed by the Visual Analog Score) and patient physical function (as assessed by the Oswestry Disability Index and Short Form-12) but not mental function. Disc height, coronal angulation, and lordotic angulation at each level and the Cobb angle were also significantly restored. Fusion was successful in 209 levels (88%). The most frequent complication was thigh pain, which was observed in 36% of patients.

“In conclusion, this is the first report with a minimum two-year follow-up, demonstrating the pain, function and radiographic outcomes of patients who had undergone minimally invasive LLIF,” Kotwal and colleagues conclude. “Our results support the efficacy of this surgical procedure in improvements of clinical and radiographic features.”

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