Intraoperative and perioperative complications in minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion: A review of 513 patients

Albert P. Wong, Zachary A. Smith, Alexander T. Nixon, Cort D. Lawton, Nader S. Dahdaleh, Ricky H. Wong, Brenda Auffinger, Sandi Lam, John K. Song, John C. Liu, Tyler R. Koski, Richard G. Fessler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


OBJECT: Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) has become one of the preferred procedures for circumferential fusion in the lumbar spine. Over the last decade, advances in surgical techniques have enabled surgeons to perform the TLIF procedure through a minimally invasive approach (MI-TLIF). There are a few studies reported in the medical literature in which perioperative complication rates of MI-TLIF were evaluated; here, the authors present the largest cohort series to date. They analyzed intraoperative and perioperative complications in 513 consecutive MI-TLIF-treated patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease. METHODS: The authors performed a retrospective review of prospectively collected data on 513 consecutive patients treated over a 10-year period for lumbar degenerative disc disease using MI-TLIF. All patients undergoing either a first-time or revision 1- or 2-level MI-TLIF procedure were included in the study. Demographic, intraoperative, and perioperative data were collected and analyzed using bivariate analyses (Student t-test, analysis of variance, odds ratio, chi-square test) and multivariate analyses (logistic regression). RESULTS: A total of 513 patients underwent an MI-TLIF procedure, and the perioperative complication rate was 15.6%. The incidence of durotomy was 5.1%, and the medical and surgical infection rates were 1.4% and 0.2%, respectively. A statistically significant increase in the infection rate was seen in revision MI-TLIF cases, and the same was found for the perioperative complication rate in multilevel MI-TLIF cases. Instrumentation failure occurred in 2.3% of the cases. After analysis, no statistically significant difference was seen in the rates of durotomy during revision and multilevel surgeries. There was no significant difference between the complication rates when stratified according to presenting diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: To the authors' knowledge, this is the largest study of perioperative complications in MI-TLIF in the literature. A total of 513 patients underwent MI-TLIF (perioperative complication rate 15.6%). The most common complication was a durotomy (5.1%), and there was only 1 surgical wound infection (0.2%). There were significantly more perioperative infections in revision MI-TLIF cases and more perioperative complications in multilevel MI-TLIF cases. The results of this study suggest that MI-TLIF has a similar or better perioperative complication profile than those documented in the literature for open-TLIF treatment of degenerative lumbar spine disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-495
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2015


  • Complications
  • Durotomy
  • Lumbar
  • Minimally invasive
  • Spine
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Surgery


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