Bilateral versus unilateral instrumentation in spinal surgery

systematic review and trial sequential analysis of prospective studies

Kevin Phan*, Vannessa Leung, Daniel B. Scherman, Andrew R. Tan, Prashanth J. Rao, Ralph J. Mobbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

10 Citations (Scopus)


Lumbar fusion surgical intervention is often followed by bilateral pedicle screw fixation. There has been increasing support for unilateral pedicle screw fixation in an attempt to reduce complications and costs. The following study assesses the efficacy and complications of bilateral versus unilateral pedicle screw fixation in open and minimally invasive lumbar interbody fusion techniques. A systematic review with meta-analysis and trial sequential analysis was performed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and recommendations. In comparison with existing meta-analyses, trial sequential analysis was implemented to reduce the potential for type I error. Of the 1310 citations screened, four observational studies and 13 randomised controlled trials were used comprising 574 bilateral cases and 549 unilateral cases. Statistical analysis showed no difference in fusion rates, total complications, dural tear rates, Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) score for back pain, VAS for leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index scores, and length of stay between bilateral and unilateral instrumentation. Unilateral instrumentation was significantly shorter in duration (P < 0.00001) and led to significantly lower blood volume loss (P = 0.0002). These results were the same for both open and minimally invasive surgical approaches. Unilateral pedicle screw fixation appears to have similar post-operative outcomes as bilateral fixation and improved efficacy in regards to procedure duration and blood volume loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-23
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bilateral
  • Instrumentation
  • Pedicle screw
  • Trial sequential analysis
  • Unilateral

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Bilateral versus unilateral instrumentation in spinal surgery: systematic review and trial sequential analysis of prospective studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this