Obesity: An Independent Risk Factor for Complications in Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion? A Systematic Review

Type Article

Journal Article


A. Feeley; J. McDonnell; I. Feeley; J. Butler

Year of publication



Global Spine J






STUDY DESIGN: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. OBJECTIVES: Raised patient BMI is recognised as a relative contraindication to posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) due to the anaesthetic challenges, difficult positioning and increased intraoperative and postoperative complications, with the relative risk rising in patients with a BMI >25 kg/m2. The impact of obesity defined as a BMI > 30 kg/m(2) on Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) outcomes is not yet established. The aim of this review was to evaluate if the presence of a raised BMI in patients undergoing ALIF procedures was an independent risk factor for intra- and postoperative complications. METHODS: A systematic review of search databases PubMed; Google Scholar and OVID Medline was made to identify studies related to complications in patients with increased body mass index during anterior lumbar interbody fusion. PRISMA guidelines were utilised for this review. Complication rates in raised BMI patient cohort was compared to normal BMI complication rates with meta-analysis where available. RESULTS: 315 articles returned with search criteria applied. Six articles were included for review, with 2190 patients included for analysis. Vascular complications in obese vs. non-obese patients undergoing the anterior approach demonstrate no significant difference in complication rates (P = .62; CI = -.03-.02). Obesity is found to result in an increased rate of overall complications (P = .002; CI = .04-.16). CONCLUSIONS: Obesity was demonstrated to have an impact on overall complication rates in Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedures, with postoperative complications including wound infections and lower fusion rates more common in patients in increased BMIs. Increased focus on patient positioning and reporting of outcomes in this patient cohort is warranted to further evaluate perioperative complications.