Whether to combine spinal decompression with fusion in patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis remains controversial. We performed a cohort study to determine the effect of the addition of fusion in terms of patient satisfaction after decompressive spinal surgery in patients with and without a degenerative spondylolisthesis.
The National Swedish Register for Spine Surgery (Swespine) was used for the study. Data were obtained for all patients in the register who underwent surgery for stenosis on one or two adjacent lumbar levels. A total of 5390 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria and completed a two-year follow-up. Using multivariable models the results of 4259 patients who underwent decompression alone were compared with those of 1131 who underwent decompression and fusion. The consequence of having an associated spondylolisthesis in the operated segments pre-operatively was also considered.
At two years there was no significant difference in patient satisfaction between the two treatment groups for any of the outcome measures, regardless of the presence of a preoperative spondylolisthesis. Moreover, the proportion of patients who required subsequent further lumbar surgery was also similar in the two groups.
In this large cohort the addition of fusion to decompression was not associated with an improved outcome.