Comparison between microendoscopic laminectomy and open posterior decompression surgery for single-level lumbar spinal stenosis: a multicenter retrospective cohort study

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2021 Dec 20;22(1):1053. doi: 10.1186/s12891-021-04963-6.


Background: Microendoscopic laminectomy (MEL), in which a 16-mm tubular retractor with an internal scope is used, has shown excellent surgical results for patients with lumbar spinal canal stenosis. However, no reports have directly compared MEL with open laminectomy. This study aimed to elucidate patient-reported outcomes (PROs) and perioperative complications in patients undergoing MEL versus open laminectomy.

Methods: This is a multicenter retrospective cohort study of prospectively registered patients who underwent lumbar spinal surgery at one of the six high-volume spine centers between April 2017 and September 2018. A total of 258 patients who underwent single posterior lumbar decompression at L4/L5 were enrolled in the study. With regard to demographic data, we prospectively used chart sheets to evaluate the diagnosis, operative procedure, operation time, estimated blood loss, and complications. The follow-up period was 1-year. PROs included a numerical rating scale (NRS) for lower back pain and leg pain, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), EuroQol 5 Dimension (EQ-5D), and patient satisfaction with the treatment.

Results: Of the 258 patients enrolled, 252 (97%) completed the 1-year follow-up. Of the 252, 130 underwent MEL (MEL group) and 122 underwent open decompression (open group). The MEL group required a significantly shorter operating time and sustained lesser intraoperative blood loss compared with the open group. The MEL group showed shorter length of postoperative hospitalization than the open group. The overall complication rate was similar (8.2% in the MEL group versus 7.7% in the open group), and the revision rate did not significantly differ. As for PROs, both preoperative and postoperative values did not significantly differ between the two groups. However, the satisfaction rate was higher in the MEL group (74%) than in the open group (53%) (p = 0.02).

Conclusions: MEL required a significantly shorter operating time and resulted in lesser intraoperative blood loss compared with laminectomy. Postoperative PROs and complication rates were not significantly different between the procedures, although MEL demonstrated a better satisfaction rate.

Keywords: Complications; Microendoscopic laminectomy; Multicenter retrospective cohort study; Patient-reported outcomes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Decompression
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy / adverse effects
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Stenosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Spinal Stenosis* / surgery