Background Minimally invasive direct thoracic interbody fusion (MIS-DTIF) is a new single surgeon procedure for fusion of the thoracic vertebrae below the scapula (T6/7) to the thoracolumbar junction. In this proof of concept study, we describe the surgical technique for MIS-DTIF and report our experience and the perioperative outcomes of the first four patients who underwent this procedure.
Study Design/Setting In this study we attempt to establish the safety and efficacy of MIS-DTIF. We have performed MIS-DTIF on six spinal levels in four patients with degenerative disk disease or disk herniation. We recorded surgery time, blood loss, fluoroscopy time, complications, and patient-reported pain.
Methods Throughout the MIS-DTIF procedure, the surgeon is aided by biplanar fluoroscopic imaging and electrophysiological monitoring. The surgeon approaches the spine with a series of gentle tissue dilations and inserts a working tube that establishes a direct connection from the outside of the skin to the disk space. Through this working tube, the surgeon performs a discectomy and inserts an interbody graft or cage. The procedure is completed with minimally invasive (MI) posterior pedicle screw fixation.
Results For the single level patients the mean blood loss was 90 ml, surgery time 43 minutes, fluoroscopy time 293 seconds, and hospital stay two days. For the two-level surgeries, the mean blood loss was 27 ml, surgery time 61 minutes, fluoroscopy time 321 seconds, and hospital stay three days. We did not encounter any clinically significant complications. Thirty days post-surgery, the patients reported a statistically significant reduction of 5.3 points on a 10-point sliding pain scale.
Conclusions MIS-DTIF with pedicle screw fixation is a safe and clinically effective procedure for fusions of the thoracic spine. The procedure is technically straightforward and overcomes many of the limitations of the current minimally invasive (MI) approaches to the thoracic spine. MIS-DTIF has the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs relative to the current standard of care. We are currently expanding this study to a larger cohort and recording long term outcomes and costs.
Disclosures H. Abbasi: None.
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