OBJECTIVE: We describe a prospective cohort study that investigated the effectiveness of microsurgical bilateral decompression using unilateral laminotomy for lumbar spinal stenosis and assessed the factors influencing the outcome.
METHODS: A total of 165 consecutive patients underwent decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis. They were divided into 3 age groups: A (<65 years), B (65–75 years), and C (>75 years). Further classification was perforemed according to body mass index (BMI): BMI 1 (<26), BMI 2 (26–30), and BMI 3 (>30), anesthesiological risk factors (American Society of Anesthesiologists), and the number of levels decompressed. The outcome was monitored by an independent observer at 1 week, 3 months, and 1 year after surgery. The following parameters were evaluated: pain (visual analog scale and analgesic consumption), functional improvement (Neurogenic Claudication Outcome Score), and walking performance, defined as walking distance × speed (treadmill).
RESULTS: One week after surgery, pain decreased in 85.9% of patients, and a comparison of the pre- and postoperative use of analgesics showed that 38% of nonopioid use and 74% of opioid use were discontinued, whereas nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug consumption increased 13%. One year after surgery, pain remained decreased in 83.9% of patients, Neurogenic Claudication Outcome Score increased in 90.3% of patients, and walking performance improved in 92.2% of patients. BMI greater than 30 was the only negative prognostic factor for pain reduction (P = 0.012) and Neurogenic Claudication Outcome Score improvement (P = 0.019). Surprisingly, patients who underwent multilevel decompression benefitted more from surgery than those who underwent single-level decompression.
CONCLUSION: Microsurgical bilateral decompression using unilateral laminotomy is an effective surgical option for lumbar spinal stenosis, even in high-risk patients with multilevel stenosis.