Clinical outcomes following sublaminar decompression and instrumented fusion for lumbar degenerative spinal pathology

J Clin Neurosci. 2016 Aug:30:98-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2016.02.001. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Traditional treatment for lumbar stenosis with instability is laminectomy and posterolateral arthrodesis, with or without interbody fusion. However, laminectomies remove the posterior elements and decrease the available surface area for fusion. Therefore, a sublaminar decompression may be a preferred approach for adequate decompression while preserving bone surface area for fusion. A retrospective review of 71 patients who underwent sublaminar decompression in conjunction with instrumented fusion for degenerative spinal disorders at a single institution was performed. Data collected included demographics, preoperative symptoms, operative data, and radiographical measurements of the central canal, lateral recesses, and neural foramina, and fusion outcomes. Paired t-tests were used to test significance of the outcomes. Thirty-one males and 40 females with a median age 60years underwent sublaminar decompression and fusion. A median of two levels were fused. The mean Visual Analog Scale pain score improved from 6.7 preoperatively to 2.9 at last follow-up. The fusion rate was 88%, and the median time to fusion was 11months. Preoperative and postoperative mean thecal sac cross-sectional area, right lateral recess height, left lateral recess height, right foraminal diameter, and left foraminal diameter were 153 and 209mm(2) (p<0.001), 5.9 and 5.9mm (p=0.43), 5.8 and 6.3mm (p=0.027), 4.6 and 5.2mm (p=0.008), and 4.2 and 5.2mm (p<0.001), respectively. Sublaminar decompression provided adequate decompression, with significant increases in thecal sac cross-sectional area and bilateral foraminal diameter. It may be an effective alternative to laminectomy in treating central and foraminal stenosis in conjunction with instrumented fusion.

Keywords: Foraminal stenosis; Lateral recess stenosis; Lumbar laminectomy; Lumbar stenosis; Spinal fusion; Sublaminar decompression.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy / methods*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Fusion / methods*
  • Spinal Stenosis / surgery*
  • Young Adult