Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 567–574 | Cite as

Failed anterior lumbar interbody fusion due to incomplete foraminal decompression

  • Kyung-Chul Choi
  • Yong AhnEmail author
  • Byung-Uk Kang
  • Joo-Hee Jang
  • Kyeong-Ki Kim
  • Yong Hwan Shin
  • Jong-Oh Choi
  • Sang-Ho Lee
Clinical Article



Anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) has gained widespread popularity for spinal disorders requiring fusion. The purpose of this study was to analyze ALIF failures.


The medical records of 223 patients treated with ALIF between January 2007 and June 2008 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with unfavorable outcomes, including subsequent posterior decompression at the index level or poor outcomes after ALIF were identified based on clinical and radiological findings. The patients were divided into two groups: an unfavorable group and a favorable group. Preoperative clinical and radiological factors for each group were statistically analyzed.


Two hundred of the 223 patients were enrolled in this study. Thirteen (6.5%) of 200 patients resulted in unfavorable outcome. Four patients (2%) of them underwent posterior decompressive surgery. The main cause of unfavorable outcomes was incomplete decompression of the foraminal stenosis. Unfavorable outcomes were obtained in patients with the level of L5-S1 (p = 0.036), higher body mass index (p = 0.048), higher percentage of slippage (p = 0.024), and severe facet arthropathy (p = 0.013). However, there was no difference in preoperative disc height, foraminal size, facet angle, facet tropism, or preoperative visual analog scale for back and leg pain, the Oswestry disability index, symptom duration, and fusion rate between the two groups.


Based on these results, posterior decompression and fusion may be considered for obese patients with the level of L5-S1, high-grade spondylolisthesis, or severe facet arthropathy. On the other hand, ALIF can be used an effective alternative treatment in many spinal disorders requiring fusion.


Failed anterior lumbar interbody fusion Foraminal stenosis Incomplete decompression 



The authors thank Jung-In Park, Young-Jin Son, and Bu Hee Kim for their assistance in preparing this manuscript.


The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.

Conflicts of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyung-Chul Choi
    • 1
  • Yong Ahn
    • 1
    Email author
  • Byung-Uk Kang
    • 1
  • Joo-Hee Jang
    • 2
  • Kyeong-Ki Kim
    • 1
  • Yong Hwan Shin
    • 1
  • Jong-Oh Choi
    • 3
  • Sang-Ho Lee
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of NeurosurgeryDaegu Wooridul Spine HospitalDaeguSouth Korea
  2. 2.Department of General SurgeryDaegu Wooridul Spine HospitalDaeguSouth Korea
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyDaegu Wooridul Spine HospitalDaeguSouth Korea
  4. 4.Department of NeurosurgeryWooridul Spine HospitalSeoulSouth Korea

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