✓ All patients who underwent decompressive lumbar laminectomy in the Washtenaw County, Michigan metropolitan area during a 7-year period were studied for the purpose of defining long-term outcome, clinical correlations, and the need for subsequent fusion. Outcome was determined by questionnaire and physical examination from a cohort of 119 patients with an average follow-up evaluation interval of 4.6 years. Patients graded their outcome as much improved (37%), somewhat improved (29%), unchanged (17%), somewhat worse (5%), and much worse (12%) compared to their condition before surgery. Poor outcome correlated with the need for additional surgery, but there were few additional significant correlations. No patient had a lumbar fusion during the study interval.
The outcome after laminectomy was found to be less favorable than previously reported, based on a patient questionnaire administered to an unbiased patient population. Further randomized, controlled trials are therefore necessary to determine the efficacy of lumbar fusion as an adjunct to decompressive lumbar laminectomy.