Decompression Surgery Alone : A Swiss Prospective Multicenter Cohort Study With 3 Years of Follow-upVersus: A Swiss Prospective Multicenter Cohort Study With 3 Years of Follow-up Decompression Plus Fusion in Symptomatic Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Swiss Prospective Multicenter Cohort Study With 3 Years of Follow-up

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Study Design.

Retrospective analysis of a prospective, multicenter cohort study.


To estimate the added effect of surgical fusion as compared to decompression surgery alone in symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis patients with spondylolisthesis.

Summary of Background Data.

The optimal surgical management of lumbar spinal stenosis patients with spondylolisthesis remains controversial.


Patients of the Lumbar Stenosis Outcome Study with confirmed DLSS and spondylolisthesis were enrolled in this study. The outcomes of this study were Spinal Stenosis Measure (SSM) symptoms (score range 1–5, best-worst) and function (1–4) over time, measured at baseline, 6, 12, 24, and 36 months follow-up. In order to quantify the effect of fusion surgery as compared to decompression alone and number of decompressed levels, we used mixed effects models and accounted for the repeated observations in main outcomes (SSM symptoms and SSM function) over time. In addition to individual patients’ random effects, we also fitted random slopes for follow-up time points and compared these two approaches with Akaike's Information Criterion and the chi-square test. Confounders were adjusted with fixed effects for age, sex, body mass index, diabetes, Cumulative Illness Rating Scale musculoskeletal disorders, and duration of symptoms.


One hundred thirty-one patients undergoing decompression surgery alone (n = 85) or decompression with fusion surgery (n = 46) were included in this study. In the multiple mixed effects model the adjusted effect of fusion compared with decompression alone surgery on SSM symptoms was 0.06 (95% confidence interval: −0.16–0.27) and −0.07 (95% confidence interval: −0.25–0.10) on SSM function, respectively.


Among the patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis our study confirms that in the two groups, decompression alone and decompression with fusion, patients distinctively benefited from surgical treatment. When adjusted for confounders, fusion surgery was not associated with a more favorable outcome in both SSM scores as compared to decompression alone surgery.


Level of Evidence: 3

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