Risk factor of contralateral radiculopathy following microendoscopy-assisted minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion

  • Yang Yang
  • Zhong-Yu Liu
  • Liang-Ming Zhang
  • Jian-Wen Dong
  • Pei-Gen Xie
  • Rui-Qiang Chen
  • Bu Yang
  • Chang Liu
  • Bin Liu
  • Li-Min Rong
Original Article



Microendoscopy-assisted minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) is an advantageous method for treating lumbar degenerative disease; however, some patients show contralateral radiculopathy postoperatively. This study aims to investigate its risk factor.


A total of 130 cases who underwent microendoscopy-assisted MIS-TLIF at L4–5 level were divided into symptomatic and asymptomatic groups according to the presence of postoperative contralateral radiculopathy. Both preoperative and postoperative radiographic parameters, as well as their changes were compared between the two groups, including lumbar lordosis (LL), surgical segmental angle (SSA), disc height (DH), contralateral foramen area (CFA) and contralateral canal area (CCA). Screw breach on contralateral L4 pedicle and decompression method (ipsilateral or bilateral canal decompression through unilateral route) were also analyzed as potential risk factors. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was drawn for the risk factor to determine the optimal threshold for predicting postoperative contralateral radiculopathy. Besides, clinical outcome assessment, involving Visual Analog Score (VAS) for back and leg, Japanese Orthopaedics Association Score (JOA) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), was also compared between the two groups before surgery and at final follow-up (at least 3 months after the surgery for asymptomatic patients or final treatments of contralateral radiculopathy for symptomatic cases).


Postoperative contralateral radiculopathy occurred in 11 (8.5%) of the 130 patients. Both preoperative and postoperative CFA as well as its change were significantly decreased in symptomatic group compared with asymptomatic group (all P < 0.05). For the remaining four parameters (LL, SSA, DH, CCA), their preoperative, postoperative and change values showed no statistical difference between the two groups (all P > 0.05). Neither screw breach nor decompression method revealed statistical association with this complication (both P > 0.05). Based on ROC curve, the optimal threshold of preoperative CFA was 0.76 cm2. At final follow-up, significant improvement in VAS (back and leg), JOA and ODI was observed in both groups compared with preoperative baseline (all P < 0.05), while no difference was found between the two groups (all P > 0.05).


Preoperative contralateral foramen stenosis is the risk factor of contralateral radiculopathy following microendoscopy-assisted MIS-TLIF. If preoperative CFA at L4–5 level is not larger than 0.76 cm2, prophylactic measures, including both indirect and direct decompression of contralateral foramen, are recommended.


Risk factor Contralateral Radiculopathy Minimally invasive surgery Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion 



We deeply thank Lianxiong Yuan for performing statistical analysis of this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No benefit in any form has been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.


No funds or Grants were received in support of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yang Yang
    • 1
  • Zhong-Yu Liu
    • 1
  • Liang-Ming Zhang
    • 1
  • Jian-Wen Dong
    • 1
  • Pei-Gen Xie
    • 1
  • Rui-Qiang Chen
    • 1
  • Bu Yang
    • 1
  • Chang Liu
    • 1
  • Bin Liu
    • 1
  • Li-Min Rong
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Spine SurgeryThe Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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