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Percutaneous Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion (pTLIF) with a Posterolateral Approach for the Treatment of Degenerative Disk Disease: Feasibility and Preliminary Results

 Rudolf Morgenstern MD, PhD,1 Christian Morgenstern MD, PhD2

1Orthopedic Spine Surgery Unit (Morgenstern Spine Institute), Hospital Quirón Teknon, Barcelona, Spain, 2Centrum für Musculoskeletale Chirurgie (CMSC), Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany



Interbody fusion by open discectomy is the usual treatment for degenerative disk disease but requires a relatively long recovery period. The transforaminal posterolateral approach is a well-known standard in endoscopic spine surgery that allows direct access to the disk with progressive tissue dilation. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of percutaneous transforaminal interbody fusion (pTLIF) with percutaneous insertion of an expandable or a standard rigid interbody implant for patients with degenerative disk disease with or without spondylolisthesis and for revision surgery with the endoscopic posterolateral approach.


Between 2009 and 2014, the pTLIF procedure was performed in 30 patients. Ten patients underwent insertion of a rigid implant (group A) and the remaining 20 underwent insertion of an expandable titanium interbody implant as the initial procedure (n = 10) (group B) or after failed back surgery (n = 10) (group C). Patient outcomes were scored with visual analogic scale (VAS), Oswestry disability index (ODI) and modified Macnab criteria.


The mean follow-up period was 38 (17) (range 11 to 67) months. The outcome was excellent in 18, good in 10 and fair in 2. No poor results and no major complications were reported. No significant (p<0.05) differences in VAS and ODI scores according to the study group were found. Median postoperative time until hospital discharge was 26 hours (20 to 68 hours). Postoperative values for VAS and ODI scores improved significantly (p<0.05) compared to preoperative data in all study groups.


These preliminary results have shown the feasibility and efficacy of the pTLIF procedure using a percutaneous posterolateral approach for the treatment of degenerative disk disease with or without spondylolisthesis up to grade 2 and in revision surgery. No significant differences in outcome were observed between an expandable and a rigid cage. Median postoperative time until hospital discharge was faster compared to standard TLIF (26 hours vs. 9.3 days).

Minimally invasive surgery, degenerative disk disease, revision surgery, percutaneous transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, expandable titanium interbody implant, transforaminal posterolateral approach
Volume 9 Article 41