Background: Stand-alone anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is an effective surgical approach for selected spinal pathologies. It avoids the morbidity and complications associated with instrumented ALIF, such as plate fixation and the traditionally used posterior approach. Despite improved disc space visualization and clearance, the associated posterior instability and increased risk of nonfusion present major challenges to this approach. The integral cage design aims to address these challenges by providing the necessary stabilization through intracorporeal screws. However, there is limited and controversial data available for stand-alone ALIF and integral cage fixation. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review to evaluate recent findings on outcomes of stand-alone ALIF devices to explore areas of controversy and identify directions for future research. Methods: Two reviewers conducted independent, systematic literature searches for appropriate studies in 5 electronic databases as per Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Studies were filtered by the use of specified selection criteria, particularly exclusion of studies with supplementary fixation to ALIF and studies published before the year 2000. A total of 17 studies met the criteria, and their data were comprehensively extracted and analyzed. Results: The current literature is supportive of stand-alone ALIF due to acceptable clinical outcomes, promising fusion rates and disc height restoration. However, data and outcomes remain preliminary, and there are numerous areas of controversy. Conclusions: There is evidence for the efficacy and safety of stand-alone ALIF. However, the extent of improvement based on specific indications for surgery remains unclear. Further investigation utilizing more methodologically rigorous studies of long-term outcomes is necessary to address these issues.
- Intervertebral disc