Max Kunadt, Luisa Barleben, Karin Büttner-Janz

June 2022, pp 1 - 15 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07223-w

First Online: 14 June 2022


To determine whether the open or the minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (O-TLIF, MI-TLIF) is the favored treatment, we provide first meta-analyses using prospective studies with at least two years follow-up only and present the clinical relevance of statistical results for the first time.


After a systematic review of six databases, we conducted 10 meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 10 meta-analyses of eligible prospective studies (EPSs) to compare fusion rate, patient-reported outcome measures (back pain (B-VAS), leg pain, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)), for the first time safety outcome measures as operative and postoperative complications per case, and the perioperative outcome measures estimated blood loss (EBL), operation time and length of hospital stay (LOS). The clinical relevance was assessed by overall effect sizes (OESs) of statistically significant meta-analytic results.


In our meta-analyses of RCTs, MI-TLIF is statistically significantly superior in ODI, EBL and LOS, with clinically meaningful OESs only in EBL and LOS. In meta-analyses of EPSs, MI-TLIF is statistically significantly superior in B-VAS, postoperative complications per case, EBL and LOS, all with clinically meaningful OESs except for B-VAS. The meta-analyses of remaining outcome measures present statistically nonsignificant results. In a descriptive analysis of complications, postoperative wound infections predominate in O-TLIF and hardware malposition in MI-TLIF.


After at least two years, O-TLIF and MI-TLIF can be considered equally efficacious, which simplifies surgeons’ decision between both treatments, however, with the safety outcome measure postoperative complications per case and the perioperative outcome measures EBL and LOS in favor of MI-TLIF.

Level of evidence I

Well conducted meta-analyses, systematic reviews, or RCTs with a low risk of bias.

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