Stenosis of the central and lateral lumbar vertebral canal can be congenital or acquired; the latter is most often caused by a degenerative process. The associated neurogenic claudication and/or radiculopathic symptom complexes are thought to result from compression of the cauda equina and lumbosacral nerve roots by hypertrophy of or encroachment by any combination of the following: canal walls, ligamenta flava, intervertebral discs, posterior longitudinal ligament, or epidural fat.
The authors' technique for the treatment of lumbar stenosis involves extensive unilateral decompression with undercutting of the spinous process and obviates the need for instrumentation by using a contralateral autologous bone fusion. The results in a series of 29 patients in whom the procedure was performed suggest that this decompression method safely and successfully treats not only the radicular symptoms caused by lateral stenosis but also the neurogenic claudication symptoms associated with central stenosis. In addition, the procedure can preserve spinal stability without instrumentation by using contralateral autologous bone fusion along the laminae and spinous processes.