With the advent of anterior lumbar interbody fusion and artificial disk replacement as common procedures for the treatment of many spinal problems, anterior exposure has become an increasingly popular procedure for general, thoracic, urologic, and vascular surgeons. Despite this, the body of literature describing this procedure, especially the general and vascular surgery literature, is lacking.
A retrospective review of medical records was performed for patients operated on from April 2002 to March 2004.
Tertiary care university hospital.
In total, 64 open retroperitoneal exposures for anterior spinal approaches were performed. Thirty-five (55%) were performed on men and 29 (45%) on women.
Fifty patients (78%) required lumbosacral approaches, and 14 (22%) required access to purely lumbar disk spaces. Forty-three patients underwent single-disk approaches, and 21 required access to either 2 or 3 levels. Forty patients (63%) underwent anterior lumbar interbody fusion, and 22 (34%) had a Prodisc disk replacement.
Main Outcome Measures
We analyzed intraoperative and early postoperative complications.
The average age was 43 years (range, 25-89 years), 42 and 44 years for men and women, respectively. Ninety-seven percent of all attempted retroperitoneal exposures were successful. Intraoperative complications occurred in 5 patients (8%) and included inability to mobilize the iliac veins, injury to the iliac vein, and ureteral tear. The postoperative course was complicated in 8 patients (14%) and included fever, urinary retention, spinal headache, Clostridium difficile colitis, and ileus.
Open retroperitoneal exposure to the lumbar and lumbosacral vertebral bodies can be performed safely with a multidisciplinary approach that maximizes the various surgical skills of the orthopedic and vascular or general surgeon, reducing complication rates in anterior spinal surgery.