Can low-grade spondylolisthesis be effectively treated by either coflex interlaminar stabilization or laminectomy and posterior spinal fusion Two-year clinical and radiographic results from the randomized, prospective, multicenter US investigational device exemption trial: Clinical article

Reginald Davis, Joshua D. Auerbach, Hyun Bae, Thomas J. Errico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Object. Posterolateral spinal fusion (PSF) has long been the standard of care for degenerative spondylolisthesis, but less invasive, motion-preserving alternatives have been proposed to reduce the complications associated with fusion while still providing neural decompression and stabilization. The object of the current study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of coflex Interlaminar Stabilization compared with PSF to treat low-grade spondylolisthesis with spinal stenosis. Methods. This is a prospective, randomized, multicenter FDA investigational device exemption (IDE) trial comparing coflex Interlaminar Stabilization with laminectomy and PSF. A total of 322 patients from 21 sites in the US were enrolled between 2006 and 2008 for the IDE trial. The current study evaluated only the subset of patients from this overall cohort with Grade 1 spondylolisthesis (99 in the coflex group and 51 in the fusion group). Subjects were randomized 2:1 to receive decompression and coflex interlaminar stabilization or decompression and posterolateral spinal fusion with spinal instrumentation. Data collected included perioperative outcomes, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), back and worse leg visual analog scale (VAS) scores, 12-Item Short Form Health Survey, Zurich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ), and radiographic outcomes at a minimum of 2 years. The FDA criteria for overall device success required the following to be met: 15-point reduction in ODI, no reoperations, no major devicerelated complications, and no postoperative epidural injections. Results. At a minimum of 2 years, patient follow-up was 94.9% and 94.1% in the coflex and fusion control groups, respectively. There were no group differences at baseline for any demographic, clinical, or radiographic parameter. The average age was 63 years in the coflex cohort and 65 years in the fusion cohort. Coflex subjects experienced significantly shorter operative times (p < 0.0001), less estimated blood loss (p < 0.0001), and shorter length of stay (p < 0.0001) than fusion controls. Both groups experienced significant improvements from baseline at 2 years in ODI, VAS back, VAS leg, and ZCQ, with no significant group differences, with the exception of significantly greater ZCQ satisfaction with coflex at 2 years. FDA overall success was achieved in 62.8% of coflex subjects (59 of 94) and 62.5% of fusion controls (30 of 48) (p = 1.000). The reoperation rate was higher in the coflex cohort (14 [14.1%] of 99) compared with fusion (3 [5.9%] of 51, p = 0.18), although this difference was not statistically significant. Fusion was associated with significantly greater angulation and translation at the superior and inferior adjacent levels compared with baseline, while coflex showed no significant radiographic changes at the operative or index levels. Conclusions. Low-grade spondylolisthesis was effectively stabilized by coflex and led to similar clinical outcomes, with improved perioperative outcomes, compared with PSF at 2 years. Reoperation rates, however, were higher in the coflex cohort. Patients in the fusion cohort experienced significantly increased superior and inferior level angulation and translation, while those in the coflex cohort experienced no significant adjacent or index level radiographic changes from baseline. Coflex Interlaminar Stabilization is a less invasive, safe, and equally efficacious clinical solution to PSF to treat low-grade spondylolisthesis, and it appears to reduce stresses at the adjacent levels. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT00534235 (

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-184
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013



  • Coflex
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis
  • Fusion
  • Spinal stenosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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