Stand-alone Lateral Recess Decompression Without Discectomy in Patients Presenting With Claudicant Radicular Pain and MRI Evidence of Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Prospective Study

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2017 Jul 1;42(13):984-991. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000001944.


Study design: A prospective study.

Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze the outcomes of stand-alone lateral recess decompression without discectomy in patients with claudicant radicular pain and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showing LRS (lateral recess stenosis) with lumbar disc herniation.

Summary of background data: Discectomy is the gold standard treatment for symptomatic lumbar disc herniations refractory to conservative care. Typically, patients with positive SLR (Straight leg raising test) and flexion dominant leg pain are the ideal candidates who can be benefited from discectomy. There is a subset of patients with morphological features of lumbar disc herniation with LRS on MRI and presenting with diametrically opposite symptoms such as claudicant leg pain, extension dominant leg pain, relief on flexion, and a negative SLR. Until now, no focused prospective study in the literature highlights stand-alone lateral recess decompression in this group of patients.

Methods: From January 2007 to June 2013, 55 patients having unilateral claudicant radicular pain were selected to undergo stand-alone lateral recess decompression with tubular retractors. Intraoperatively, disc consistency and presence of sequestrated fragments were analyzed. Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, and Macnab criteria were used to measure outcomes.

Results: Out of 55 patients, stand-alone lateral recess decompression was successfully executed in 51 patients and remaining four patients had sequestrated discs that required removal. Mean age at presentation was 54.5 years (41-67 years), male:female ratio was 1.12:1, and mean follow-up was 3.8 years (3-5.8 years). Significant improvement (P < 0.0001) was noticed between preoperative and postoperative VAS score (8.39 ± 0.84 vs. 2.5 ± 0.48) and ODI score (46.79 ± 1.85 vs. 18.71 ± 2.41). As per Macnab criteria, 94% patients were satisfied with surgery.

Conclusion: Stand-alone lateral recess decompression without discectomy is clinically effective for a large majority of patients with claudicant radicular pain and MRI evidence of LRS with associated lumbar disc herniation. The ability to perform it with minimal invasive techniques makes it focused and targeted with minimal morbidity.

Level of evidence: 4.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods*
  • Diskectomy
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Claudication / diagnostic imaging
  • Intermittent Claudication / surgery*
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnostic imaging
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiculopathy / diagnostic imaging
  • Radiculopathy / surgery*