Guideline update for the performance of fusion procedures for degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. Part 4: Radiographic assessment of fusion status

Tanvir F. Choudhri, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Sanjay S. Dhall, Jason C. Eck, Michael W. Groff, Zoher Ghogawala, William C. Watters, Andrew T. Dailey, Daniel K. Resnick, Alok Sharan, Jeffrey C. Wang, Michael G. Kaiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability to identify a successful arthrodesis is an essential element in the management of patients undergoing lumbar fusion procedures. The hypothetical gold standard of intraoperative exploration to identify, under direct observation, a solid arthrodesis is an impractical alternative. Therefore, radiographic assessment remains the most viable instrument to evaluate for a successful arthrodesis. Static radiographs, particularly in the presence of instrumentation, are not recommended. In the absence of spinal instrumentation, lack of motion on flexion-extension radiographs is highly suggestive of a successful fusion; however, motion observed at the treated levels does not necessarily predict pseudarthrosis. The degree of motion on dynamic views that would distinguish between a successful arthrodesis and pseudarthrosis has not been clearly defined. Computed tomography with fine-cut axial images and multiplanar views is recommended and appears to be the most sensitive for assessing fusion following instrumented posterolateral and anterior lumbar interbody fusions. For suspected symptomatic pseudarthrosis, a combination of techniques including static and dynamic radiographs as well as CT images is recommended as an option. Lack of facet fusion is considered to be more suggestive of a pseudarthrosis compared with absence of bridging posterolateral bone. Studies exploring additional noninvasive modalities of fusion assessment have demonstrated either poor potential, such as with 99mTc bone scans, or provide insufficient information to formulate a definitive recommendation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • Diagnostic techniques
  • Fusion
  • Lumbar spine
  • Practice guidelines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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    Choudhri, T. F., Mummaneni, P. V., Dhall, S. S., Eck, J. C., Groff, M. W., Ghogawala, Z., Watters, W. C., Dailey, A. T., Resnick, D. K., Sharan, A., Wang, J. C., & Kaiser, M. G. (2014). Guideline update for the performance of fusion procedures for degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. Part 4: Radiographic assessment of fusion status. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, 21(1), 23-30. https://doi.org/10.3171/2014.4.SPINE14267