Guidelines for the performance of fusion procedures for degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. Part 4: radiographic assessment of fusion.

Academic Article


  • The assessment of fusion status with static plain radiography is accurate in approximately two thirds of patients treated with lumbar fusion when the radiographic results are compared with surgical exploration findings. Therefore, static plain radiography is not recommended as a stand-alone modality following lumbar fusion procedures. The addition of lateral flexion-extension radiography may improve accuracy because the lack of motion between fused lumbar segments on lateral views is highly suggestive of a solid fusion. Some degree of motion between segments may be present even when the spine has fused. The amount of motion allowable across fused segments is not clear, and the role of internal fixation in limiting motion has also not been adequately addressed. The addition of multiplanar CT scanning results in the detection of pseudarthrosis in some patients in whom fusion has been deemed successful based on plain radiographic criteria. Therefore, CT scanning may be more accurate in the determination of fusion status than plain radiography; however, a rigorous comparison of modern CT scanning and surgical exploration has not been performed. It appears that RSA is exquisitely sensitive for the detection of motion between vertebral bodies, and the loss of motion between treated vertebral segments does appear to indicate the presence of fusion. The modality, however, is invasive and not widely available. Furthermore, the only
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26635412
  • Author List

  • Resnick DK; Choudhri TF; Dailey AT; Groff MW; Khoo L; Matz PG; Mummaneni P; Watters WC; Wang J; Walters BC
  • Start Page

  • 653
  • End Page

  • 657
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 6