Lumbar spinal fusion is a commonly performed procedure, and, despite changes in cage types and fixation hardware, radiologists have, over the years, become familiar with the imaging features of typical spinal fusion and many of the complications seen in patients after surgery, including pseudoarthrosis, hardware loosening, and recurrent or residual disk herniation. Recently, however, novel approaches and devices have been developed, including advances in minimally invasive surgery, the increasing use of osteoinductive materials, and a wide variety of motion-preserving devices. These new approaches and devices manifest with characteristic imaging features and the potential for unusual and unexpected complications. Several of these devices and approaches are experimental, but many, including those devices used in lateral approaches to fusion, as well as the use of bone morphogenic protein, disk arthroplasty, and interspinous spacers, are seen with increasing frequency in daily clinical practice. Given the recent advances in spinal fusion surgery, it is important that radiologists have a basic understanding of the rationale behind these procedures, the common imaging features of the devices, and the complications associated with their use.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging