MRI measurement of neuroforaminal dimension at the index and supradjacent levels after anterior lumbar interbody fusion: A prospective study

Woojin Cho, Mark J. Sokolowski, Amir A. Mehbod, Francis Denis, Timothy A. Garvey, John Perl, Ensor E. Transfeldt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Background: Anterior interbody fusion has previously been demonstrated to increase neuroforaminal height in a cadaveric model using cages. No prior study has prospectively assessed the relative change in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated neuroforaminal dimensions at the index and supradjacent levels, after anterior interbody fusion with a corticocancellous allograft in a series of patients without posterior decompression. The objective of this study was to determine how much foraminal dimension can be increased with indirect foraminal decompression alone via anterior interbody fusion, and to determine the effect of anterior lumbar interbody fusion on the dimensions of the supradjacent neuroforamina. Methods: A prospective study comparing pre- and postoperative neuroforaminal dimensions on MRI scan among 26 consecutive patients undergoing anterior lumbar interbody fusion without posterior decompression was performed. We studies 26 consecutive patients (50 index levels) that had undergone anterior interbody fusion followed by posterior pedicle screw fixation without distraction or foraminotomy. We used preoperative and postoperative MRI imaging to assess the foraminal dimensions at each operated level on which the lumbar spine had been operated. The relative indirect foraminal decompression achieved was calculated. The foraminal dimension of the 26 supradjacent untreated levels was measured pre- and postoperatively to serve as a control and to determine any effects after anterior interbody fusion. Results: In this study, 8 patients underwent 1 level fusion (L5-S1), 12 patients had 2 levels (L4-S1) and 6 patients had 3 levels (L3-S1). The average increase in foraminal dimension was 43.3% (p < 0.05)-19.2% for L3-4, 57.1% for L4-5, and 40.1% for L5-S1. Mean pre- and postoperative supradjacent neuroforaminal dimension measurements were 125.84 mm 2 and 124.89 mm2, respectively. No significant difference was noted (p > 0.05). Conclusions: Anterior interbody fusion with a coriticocancellous allograft can significantly increase neuroforaminal dimension even in the absence of formal posterior distraction or foraminotomy; anterior interbody fusion with a coriticocancellous allograft has little effect on supradjacent neuroforaminal dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalClinics in Orthopedic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anterior interbody fusion
  • Index level
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Prospective studies
  • Supradjacent level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'MRI measurement of neuroforaminal dimension at the index and supradjacent levels after anterior lumbar interbody fusion: A prospective study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this