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Sven Schmidt, Joerg Franke, Michael Rauschmann, Dieter Adelt, Matteo Mario Bonsanto and Steffen Sola


Surgical decompression is extremely effective in relieving pain and symptoms due to lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Decompression with interlaminar stabilization (D+ILS) is as effective as decompression with posterolateral fusion for stenosis, as shown in a major US FDA pivotal trial. This study reports a multicenter, randomized controlled trial in which D+ILS was compared with decompression alone (DA) for treatment of moderate to severe LSS.


Under approved institutional ethics review, 230 patients (1:1 ratio) randomized to either DA or D+ILS (coflex, Paradigm Spine) were treated at 7 sites in Germany. Patients had moderate to severe LSS at 1 or 2 adjacent segments from L-3 to L-5. Outcomes were evaluated up to 2 years postoperatively, including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) scores, the presence of secondary surgery or lumbar injections, neurological status, and the presence of device- or procedure-related severe adverse events. The composite clinical success (CCS) was defined as combining all 4 of these outcomes, a success definition validated in a US FDA pivotal trial. Additional secondary end points included visual analog scale (VAS) scores, Zürich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ) scores, narcotic usage, walking tolerance, and radiographs.


The overall follow-up rate was 91% at 2 years. There were no significant differences in patient-reported outcomes at 24 months (p > 0.05). The CCS was superior for the D+ILS arm (p = 0.017). The risk of secondary intervention was 1.75 times higher among patients in the DA group than among those in the D+ILS group (p = 0.055). The DA arm had 228% more lumbar injections (4.5% for D+ILS vs 14.8% for DA; p = 0.0065) than the D+ILS one. Patients who underwent DA had a numerically higher rate of narcotic use at every time point postsurgically (16.7% for D+ILS vs 23% for DA at 24 months). Walking Distance Test results were statistically significantly different from baseline; the D+ILS group had > 2 times the improvement of the DA. The patients who underwent D+ILS had > 5 times the improvement from baseline compared with only 2 times the improvement from baseline for the DA group. Foraminal height and disc height were largely maintained in patients who underwent D+ILS, whereas patients treated with DA showed a significant decrease at 24 months postoperatively (p < 0.001).


This study showed no significant difference in the individual patient-reported outcomes (e.g., ODI, VAS, ZCQ) between the treatments when viewed in isolation. The CCS (survivorship, ODI success, absence of neurological deterioration or device- or procedure-related severe adverse events) is statistically superior for ILS. Microsurgical D+ILS increases walking distance, decreases compensatory pain management, and maintains radiographic foraminal height, extending the durability and sustainability of a decompression procedure.

Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01316211 (