The development of diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis (DISH) often requires further surgery after posterior decompression without fusion because of postoperative intervertebral instability. However, there is no information on whether fusion surgery is recommended for these patients as the standard surgery. The aim of this study was to review the clinical and imaging findings in lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSS) patients with DISH affecting the lumbar segment (L-DISH) and to assess the indication for fusion surgery in patients with DISH.
A total of 237 patients with LSS underwent 1- or 2-level posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF) at the authors’ hospital and had a minimum follow-up period of 2 years. Patients with L-DISH were classified as such (n = 27, 11.4%), whereas those without were classified as controls (non-L-DISH; n = 210, 88.6%). The success rates of short-level PLIF were compared in patients with and those without L-DISH. The rates of adjacent segment disease (ASD), pseudarthrosis, postoperative symptoms, and revision surgery were examined in the two groups.
L-DISH from L2 to L4 correlated significantly with early-onset ASD, pseudarthrosis, and the appearance of postsurgical symptoms, especially at a lower segment and one distance from the segment adjacent to L-DISH, which were associated with the worst clinical outcome. Significantly higher percentages of L-DISH patients developed ASD and pseudarthrosis than those in the non-L-DISH group (40.7% vs 4.8% and 29.6% vs 2.4%, respectively). Of those patients with ASD and/or pseudarthrosis, 69.2% were symptomatic and 11.1% underwent revision surgery.
The results highlighted the negative impact of short-level PLIF surgery for patients with L-DISH. Increased mechanical stress below the fused segment was considered the reason for the poor clinical outcome.