Background. This study compares the immediate postoperative outcomes in patients who undergo laparoscopic and open anterior lumbar spinal fusion and describes the learning curve associated with the performance of this procedure. Methods. The charts of patients who underwent anterior lumbar spinal fusion between January 1995 and July 1999 were reviewed. Data pertaining to the operation and postoperative course were analyzed and compared. Results. Eighty-nine patients underwent anterior lumbar spinal fusion. Fourteen patients were excluded; a full analysis was performed on the records of the remaining 75 patients. Fifty-five patients underwent an attempted laparoscopic procedure, and 20 patients underwent an open procedure. The conversion rate was 38% (21/55 patients) in the group who underwent the laparoscopic procedure. In the 34 patients whose laparoscopic procedure was completed, there was significantly less blood loss and shorter postoperative ileus, but the operative time was longer, when compared with patients who underwent the open procedure. The laparoscopic procedures performed in 1999 resulted in fewer conversions, less blood loss, and a shorter operating room time, when compared with the laparoscopic procedures in 1998. Conclusions. Laparoscopic anterior lumbar spinal fusion improves immediate postoperative results when compared with open anterior lumbar spinal fusion. (Surgery 2000;128:589-96.)
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*Reprint requests: John F. Sweeney, MD, Director of Minimally Invasive Surgery, University of Michigan Medical Center, 2920G Taubman Center, Box 0331, 1500 East Medical Center Dr, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0331.
© 2000 Mosby, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.