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Lateral lumbar interbody fusion at L4-L5 has a low rate of complications in appropriately selected patients when using a standardized surgical technique

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The aim of this study was to reassess the rate of neurological, psoas-related, and abdominal complications associated with L4-L5 lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF) undertaken using a standardized preoperative assessment and surgical technique.


This was a multicentre retrospective study involving consecutively enrolled patients who underwent L4-L5 LLIF by seven surgeons at seven institutions in three countries over a five-year period. The demographic details of the patients and the details of the surgery, reoperations and complications, including femoral and non-femoral neuropraxia, thigh pain, weakness of hip flexion, and abdominal complications, were analyzed. Neurological and psoas-related complications attributed to LLIF or posterior instrumentation and persistent symptoms were recorded at one year postoperatively.


A total of 517 patients were included in the study. Their mean age was 65.0 years (SD 10.3) and their mean BMI was 29.2 kg/m2 (SD 5.5). A mean of 1.2 levels (SD 0.6) were fused with LLIF, and a mean of 1.6 (SD 0.9) posterior levels were fused. Femoral neuropraxia occurred in six patients (1.2%), of which four (0.8%) were LLIF-related and two (0.4%) had persistent symptoms one year postoperatively. Non-femoral neuropraxia occurred in nine patients (1.8%), one (0.2%) was LLIF-related and five (1.0%) were persistent at one year. All LLIF-related neuropraxias resolved by one year. A total of 32 patients (6.2%) had thigh pain, 31 (6.0%) were LLIF-related and three (0.6%) were persistent at one year. Weakness of hip flexion occurred in 14 patients (2.7%), of which eight (1.6%) were LLIF-related and three (0.6%) were persistent at one year. No patients had bowel injury, three (0.6%) had an intraoperative vascular injury (not LLIF-related), and five (1.0%) had ileus. Reoperations occurred in five patients (1.0%) within 30 days, 37 (7.2%) within 90 days, and 41 (7.9%) within one year postoperatively.


LLIF involving the L4-L5 disc level has a low rate of persistent neurological, psoas-related, and abdominal complications in patients with the appropriate indications and using a standardized surgical technique.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2024;106-B(1):53–61.

Correspondence should be sent to Aaron J. Buckland. E-mail:

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