Abdominal wall paresis as a complication of minimally invasive lateral transpsoas interbody fusion

Elias Dakwar, Tien V. Le, Ali A. Baaj, Anh X. Le, William D. Smith, Behrooz A. Akbarnia, Juan S. Uribe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Object: The minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach for interbody fusion has been increasingly employed to treat various spinal pathological entities. Gaining access to the retroperitoneal space and traversing the abdominal wall poses a risk of injury to the major nervous structures. Nerve injury of the abdominal wall can potentially lead to paresis of the abdominal musculature and bulging of the abdominal wall. Abdominal wall nerve injury resulting from the minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal transpsoas approach has not been previously reported. The authors describe a case series of patients presenting with paresis and bulging of the abdominal wall after undergoing a minimally invasive lateral retroperitoneal approach. Methods: The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent a minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach for interbody fusion and in whom development of abdominal paresis developed; the patients were treated at 4 institutions between 2006 and 2010. All data were recorded including demographics, diagnosis, operative procedure, positioning, hospital course, follow-up, and complications. The onset, as well as resolution of the abdominal paresis, was reviewed. Results: The authors identified 10 consecutive patients in whom abdominal paresis developed after minimally invasive lateral transpsoas spine surgery out of a total of 568 patients. Twenty-nine interbody levels were fused (range 1-4 levels/patient). There were 4 men and 6 women whose mean age was 54.1 years (range 37-66 years). All patients presented with abdominal paresis 2-6 weeks postoperatively. In 8 of the 10 patients, abdominal wall paresis had resolved by the 6-month follow-up visit. Two patients only had 1 and 4 months of follow-up. No long-term sequelae were identified. Conclusions: Abdominal wall paresis is a rare but known potential complication of abdominal surgery. The authors report the first case series associated with the minimally invasive lateral transpsoas approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE18
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal wall paresis
  • Complication
  • Direct lateral interbody fusion
  • Extreme lateral interbody fusion
  • Pseudohernia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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