Radiographic Analysis of the Lumbosacral Juncture: Is There a Critical Sacral Angle for Total Disc Replacement?

  • Received : 2016.04.08
  • Accepted : 2016.08.23
  • Published : 2017.04.30


Study Design: Retrospective review of a patient cohort through a prospective study. Purpose: To determine whether there are correlations between radiographic measurements, including sacral slope (SS) and pelvic incidence (PI), and self-reported clinical outcomes among single-level L5/S1 ProDisc-L patients. Overview of Literature: The lumbosacral juncture presents unique biomechanical challenges with respect to artificial disc replacement (ADR) because of its orientation and consequential shear loading. Reports of inferior outcomes at L5/S1 compared to those of the outcomes at the levels above, including increased facet joint pain, suggest a relationship with the sacral inclination at L5/S1. Methods: Plain standing lateral radiographs of 71 patients (age, 26-65 years) who underwent ADR at L5/S1 for degenerative disc disease were reviewed. SS and PI were measured based on pretreatment and initial follow-up standing films. Patient's average adjusted self assessments included the Oswestry disability index and visual analog scale for pain 2 years after ADR. Correlation coefficients were computed to evaluate relationships between radiographic parameters and clinical outcomes. Analysis of covariance was used to evaluate multivariate relationships among factors, including radiographic parameters, body mass index (BMI), and clinical outcomes. Results: SS and PI values were obtained from 71 patients. The average SS was $33.3^{\circ}$ and average PI was $39.9^{\circ}$. At the 24-month follow-up, no significant correlations ($p{\geq}0.05$) were observed between radiographic parameters and clinical outcomes. BMI, age, and sex did not explain any variability in the relationships between clinical outcomes and SS and PI. Conclusions: We reviewed a large range of SS angles and found no associations between SS, PI, or BMI and clinical outcomes after ADR at L5/S1. These preliminary results demonstrate that ADR provided maintainence of pain relief and functional improvement for a wide range of SS angles, suggesting that steeper angles are not a contraindication for ADR.