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Presacral retroperitoneal approach to axial lumbar interbody fusion: a new, minimally invasive technique at L5-S1: Clinical outcomes, complications, and fusion rates in 50 patients at 1-year follow-up

Robert J. Bohinski, MD, PhD,1,2,3 Viral V. Jain, MD,4 William D. Tobler, MD1,2,3 

1Department of Neurosurgery, University of Cincinnati (UC) Neuroscience Institute, UC College of Medicine 2Mayfield Clinic and Spine Institute 3The Christ Hospital, Cincinnati, OH 4Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH



The presacral retroperitoneal approach to an axial lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is a percutaneous, minimally invasive technique for interbody fusion at L5-S1 that has not been extensively studied, particularly with respect to long-term outcomes.


The authors describe clinical and radiographic outcomes at 1-year follow-up for 50 consecutive patients who underwent the presacral ALIF.


Our patients included 24 males and 26 females who underwent the presacral ALIF procedure for interbody fusion at L5-S1. Indications included mechanical back pain and radiculopathy. Thirty-seven patients had disc degeneration at L5-S1, 7 had previously undergone a discectomy, and 6 had spondylolisthesis. A 2-level L4-S1 fusion was performed with a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion at L4-5 in 15 patients. AxiaLIF was performed as a stand-alone procedure in 5 patients and supplemented with pedicle screws in 45 patients. Pre- and postoperative visual analog scale (VAS) and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores were evaluated and complications were tracked. Fusion was evaluated by an independent neuro-radiologist.


At 1-year follow-up, VAS and ODI scores had significantly improved by 49% and 50%, respectively, versus preoperative scores. By high-resolution computer tomography (CT) scans, fusion was achieved in 44 (88%) patients, developing bone occurred in 5 (10%), and 1 (2%) patient had pseudoarthrosis. One patient suffered a major operative complication–a bowel perforation with a pre-sacral abscess that resolved with treatment.


Our initial 50 patients who underwent presacral ALIF showed clinical improvement and fusion rates comparable with other interbody fusion techniques; its safety was reflected by low complication rates. Its efficacy in future patients will continue to be monitored, and will be reported in a 2-year follow-up study of fusion.

AxiaLIF, Percutaneous fusion, Minimally invasive fusion, Interbody Fusion
Volume 4 Issue 2