Seven- to 10-year Outcome of Decompressive Surgery for Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

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Study Design.

Retrospective review and prospective follow-up of 88 patients who had decompressive laminectomy with or without fusion from 1983 to 1986.


To determine the 7- to 10-year outcome of surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis.

Summary of Background Data.

There is limited information on the impact of surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis on symptoms, walking ability, and satisfaction, as well as reoperation.


Patients completed standardized questionnaires in 1993 that included items about reoperations, back pain, leg pain, walking capacity, and satisfaction with surgery. Associations between preoperative demographic and clinical variables and outcomes 7 to 10 years after surgery were evaluated in univariate and multivariate analyses.


Average preoperative age was 69 years and eight patients received fusion. Of 88 patients in the original cohort, 20 (23%) were deceased and 20 (23%) had undergone reoperation by 7- to 10-year follow-up. Fifty-five patients answered questionnaires. Average duration of follow-up was 8.1 years. Thirty-three percent of the respondents had severe back pain at followup, 53% were unable to walk two blocks, and 75% were satisfied with the results of surgery. The severity of current spine-related symptoms was a stronger correlate of physical functional status at the time of follow-up than age or nonspinal comorbid conditions.


Seven to 10 years after decompressive surgery for spinal stenosis, 23% of patients had undergone reoperation and 33% of respondents had severe back pain. Despite a high prevalence of nonspinal problems in this elderly cohort, spinal symptoms were the most important correlate of reduced functional status.

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