Minimally invasive decompression (MID) is an effective procedure for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Long-term follow-up data on reoperation rates are lacking. The objective of this retrospective cohort study was to evaluate reoperation rates in patients with LSS who underwent MID, stratified for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis (DLS), with a follow-up between 5 and 15 years.
All consecutive patients with LSS who underwent MID between 2002 and 2011 were included. All patients had neurogenic claudication from central and/or lateral recess stenosis, without or with up to 25% of slippage (grade I spondylolisthesis), and no obvious dynamic instability on imaging (increase in spondylolisthesis by ≥ 5 mm demonstrated on supine-to-standing or flexion-extension imaging). Reoperation rates defined as any operation on the same or adjacent level were assessed. Revision decompression alone was considered if the aforementioned clinical and radiographic criteria were met; otherwise, patients underwent a minimally invasive posterior fusion.
A total of 246 patients (mean age 66 years) were included. Preoperative spondylolisthesis was present in 56.9%. The mean follow-up period was 8.2 years (range 5.0−14.9 years). The reoperation rates in patients with and without spondylolisthesis were 15.7% and 15.1%, respectively; fusion was required in 7.1% and 7.5%, with no significant difference (redecompression only, p = 0.954; fusion, p = 0.546). For decompression only, the mean times to reoperation were 3.9 years (95% CI 1.8−6.0 years) for patients with DLS and 2.8 years (95% CI 1.3−4.2 years) for patients without DLS; for fusion, the mean times to reoperation were 3.1 years (95% CI 1.0−5.3 years) and 3.1 years (95% CI 1.1−5.1 years), respectively.
In highly selected patients with stable DLS and leg-dominant pain from central or lateral recess stenosis, the long-term reoperation rate is similar between DLS and non-DLS patients undergoing MIS decompression.