Indirect foraminal decompression after anterior lumbar interbody fusion: a prospective radiographic study using a new pedicle-to-pedicle technique

Prashanth J. Rao*, Monish M. Maharaj, Kevin Phan, Manil Lakshan Abeygunasekara, Ralph J. Mobbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


Background context: A frequently quoted advantage of anterior lumbar interbody fusion (ALIF) is indirect foraminal decompression, although there are few studies substantiating this statement. Also, there are no clinical studies using a standardized method to measure the foraminal area (FA) and the correlation with disc height (DH) parameters. This study is proposed to measure the degree of indirect foraminal decompression radiologically using a standardized method and correlate with the intervertebral disc parameters. Purpose: To standardize the foramen measurement technique. To measure indirect neural foraminal decompression in surgically operated patients after ALIF using radiographic measurement and elucidate factors affecting foraminal restoration. Study design: A prospective cohort study. Patient sample: A continuous cohort of patients undergoing ALIF surgery. Outcome measures: It included FA, foraminal height (FH), and foraminal width. Methods This is a prospective analysis of a single surgeon series of consecutive patients undergoing an ALIF from 2011 to 2013. Pre- and postoperative computed tomography scans were used to obtain a standardized foramen snapshot using the pedicle-to-pedicle (P-P) technique, and measurements were obtained using image j software. Radiologic parameters such as DH, local disc angle (LDA), and lumbar lordosis (LL) were measured using radiographs and Surgimap software. Results: One-hundred forty patients with 184 levels were operated. Anterior lumbar interbody fusion resulted in a statistically significant (p<.01) improvement in foraminal dimensions (area=67%, height=21%, and width=38%). Other parameters also significantly improved, including anterior DH (90%), posterior DH (77%), LDA, and LL (6%). Posterior DH correlated significantly with FH improvement. Statistically, the P-P technique presented with high intra- and interclass reliabilities. Conclusions: Anterior lumbar interbody fusion results in significant indirect foraminal decompression based on the new P-P technique. Posterior DH is a significant factor in the restoration of the FH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-824
Number of pages8
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior lumbar interbody fusion
  • Disc height
  • Fine cut CT
  • Foramen measurement
  • Indirect decompression
  • P-P technique


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