Object. Hypertrophy of the superior facet of the inferior vertebra, resulting in a compression of the nerve root at the lateral foraminal exit, is a recognized cause of radicular symptoms, particularly in patients in whom previous lumbar spine surgery has failed. The lesion-specific presenting symptoms, imaging findings, and surgical treatment of this lesion, however, have received little attention. The authors prospectively studied a series of eight consecutive patients, in whom a diagnosis of lumbar stenosis at the lateral foraminal exit had been made, to elucidate the common presenting signs and symptoms of this disorder, as well as to evaluate the success of the operative treatment.
Methods. The eight patients were selected from a group of 250 consecutive patients who presented to a tertiary-care hospital and in whom a diagnosis of long-standing lumbar radiculopathy had been made. In all cases the diagnosis was confirmed by imaging studies and by intraoperative findings. The authors performed decompressive procedures on the nerve root via a medial facet-sparing approach.
Conclusions. The authors conclude that this lesion presents with characteristic physical findings and on imaging studies that distinguish it from other causes of radiculopathy, and they propose a lesion-specific, facet-sparing surgical technique that has yielded excellent results.