Good clinical outcomes in nonunion cases after facet fusion with a percutaneous pedicle screw system for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis


There are many satisfactory long-term outcomes after posterolateral fusion (PLF) for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis (DLS); nonunion cases have also achieved good clinical outcomes. Facet fusion (FF), a minimally invasive evolution of PLF, also resulted in good clinical outcomes. We aimed to assess the course of nonunion cases after FF and determine whether the nonunion cases achieved good clinical outcomes. We retrospectively reviewed the records of 136 patients who underwent FF for DLS. Range of motion (ROM) at the fused level was measured using a flexion-extension lateral radiograph preoperatively and 1 year postoperatively. Patients were classified into the Fusion or Unconfirmed Fusion group by computed tomography (CT) 1 year postoperatively. Furthermore, patients in the Unconfirmed Fusion group were classified into the Delayed Union or Nonunion group depending on the confirmation status of FF upon the following CT. The average preoperative ROM and clinical outcomes were compared between the three groups. The Fusion, Delayed Union, and Nonunion groups had 109, 14, and 13 patients, respectively. In the Nonunion group, the average ROM significantly decreased from 13.0° preoperatively to 4.9° postoperatively. There was a significant difference in the average preoperative ROM between the groups. The larger the preoperative ROM, the fewer facets fused. There was no significant difference in clinical outcomes between the groups. Five patients (3.7%) required revision surgery for adjacent segment disease 1–5.5 years after FF. Even nonunion cases after FF achieved good clinical outcomes, likely because the unstable spondylolisthesis was stabilized. FF did not require revision surgery for nonunion itself.

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Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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The authors wish to thank Dr. Takeo Ishii for advice on statistics.

Author information




TM and TT contributed to the study conception and design. Data collection was performed by all the authors. TM conducted the analysis and interpretation of data. The first draft of the manuscript was written by TM, and all the authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All the authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tomohiro Miyashita.

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Miyashita, T., Ataka, H., Kato, K. et al. Good clinical outcomes in nonunion cases after facet fusion with a percutaneous pedicle screw system for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis. Neurosurg Rev (2021).

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  • Facet joint fusion
  • Pseudarthrosis
  • Posterolateral fusion
  • Range of motion
  • Stabilization
  • Preoperative intervertebral instability