Paraspinal muscle changes after single-level posterior lumbar fusion: Volumetric analyses and literature review

Sung Min Cho, Se Hoon Kim, Sung Kon Ha, Sang Dae Kim, Dong Jun Lim, Jaehyung Cha, Bum Joon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Posterior lumbar fusion is a widely accepted surgical technique; however, it has been related to the possibility of paraspinal muscle atrophy after surgery. We investigated 1-year postoperative changes in paraspinal muscle volume using a simple formula applicable to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) images. Methods: Patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis who underwent posterior interbody fusion (PLIF) at the L4/5 level in the period from May 2010 to June 2017 were enrolled in this study. Radiologic parameters were measured using MRI or CT images which were taken before surgery and at 1 year after surgery. The volume of the paraspinal muscles was calculated using a simple formula which was derived from the formula for calculating the volume of truncated elliptic cones. Results: A total of 40 patients were included; 24 were analyzed using MRI and 16 were analyzed using CT. The mean age of the patients was 59.6 ± 12.1 years and 32 (80.5%) were female. When comparing the preoperative and 1-year-postoperative images, multifidus muscle (MF) reduction was consistently observed in the MRI and CT groups, right and left (p = 0.003, p < 0.001, p = 0.005 and p < 0.001, respectively). In the erector spinae (ES) group, decrease in muscle volume was observed in the right-sided muscles of the CT group (p < 0.001), but no significant change was observed in the MRI group. The psoas muscle showed no significant change after 1 year. Conversely, regression analysis showed a negative correlation between MF muscle volume loss and age in the MRI group (right and left, p = 0.002 and p = 0.015, respectively), that is, the younger the age, the greater loss of muscle mass. Conclusion: After the posterior lumbar fusion, the volume of the MF muscles was markedly decreased, and the degree of decrease was apparent in the MRI. The volume of the ES muscles, which are located relatively laterally, also tended to decrease at 1 year after surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number73
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 5


  • Back muscles
  • Denervation
  • Lumbar spinal fusion
  • Multifidus
  • Paraspinal muscle atrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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