Re-operation rates in spinal stenosis surgery vary between 5 and 23%. Most previous studies have been based on selected patients groups. We analysed the 10-year lumbar spinal stenosis re-operation rate from comprehensive Swedish national data during 1987-1999. The mean length of stay decreased from 2 weeks in 1987 to 1 week in 1999. Of 9,664 patients, 628 (6.5%) were re-operated. Within 30 days after the first spinal stenosis operation, 0.15% of the patients were re-operated. The 1-, 2-, 5-, and 10-year re-operation rates were 2, 5, 8 and 11%, respectively. The rate lowered by 31% over time. Adding a fusion may lower the re-operation risk, an observation which can only be evaluated in randomised trial.