Better Functional Recovery After Single-Level Compared With Two-Level Posterolateral Lumbar Fusion


Multiple studies describe the outcomes of patients undergoing single-level and multilevel posterolateral lumbar fusion (PLF). However, a comparison of outcomes between single-level and two-level PLF is lacking. The aim of this prospective cohort study was to compare outcomes between single-level and two-level instrumented PLF.


A total of 42 patients were enrolled at nine US centers between October 2015 and June 2017. Data included radiologic outcomes, visual analog scale (VAS) Back and Leg Pain, disability per the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and health-related quality of life (QoL) per 36-Item Short Form Survey version 2.0 (SF-36v2) at six weeks and three, six, 12, and 24 months.


Twelve-month and 24-month follow-ups were completed by 38 (90.5%) and 32 (76.2%) subjects, respectively. The average age was 67 years, and 54.8% were female. Twenty-six received single-level PLF, and 16 received two-level PLF. In the single-level group, there was one reoperation, two postoperative infections, and one dural tear. In the two-level group, there was one postoperative infection. The surgeon computed tomography (CT)-based evaluation of fusion rate was 67.6% (25/37) at 12-month follow-up and 94.1% (32/34) at 24-month follow-up. The third-party evaluation of fusion rate was 52.8% (19/36) at six months, 81.1% (30/37) at 12 months, and 86.5% (32/37) at 24 months. There was a tendency toward a higher fusion rate in single-level compared with two-level PLF. The ODI, SF-36v2 Mental Component Score (MCS), and VAS Back Pain and Leg Pain outcomes improved by the first follow-up visit in both the single-level and two-level groups. Improvement in the ODI was 5.86 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.03-11.69) points greater in the single-level group compared with the two-level group.


Compared with the two-level PLF subjects, single-level PLF subjects had better functional outcomes and reported higher satisfaction with the outcome of surgery but showed similar fusion, pain, and generic health-related quality of life outcomes. Both single-level and two-level PLF subjects demonstrated high fusion rates in association with improvements in pain, functional, and quality of life outcomes, as well as high satisfaction levels.




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