Change in sagittal alignment after decompression alone in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis without significant deformity: a prospective cohort study

J Neurosurg Spine 37:57–63, 2022

OBJECTIVE The authors’ objective was to investigate whether sagittal balance improves in patients with spinal stenosis after decompression alone.

METHODS This prospective longitudinal cohort study compared preoperative and 6-month postoperative 36-inch full-length radiographs in patients aged older than 60 years. Patients underwent decompression alone for central lumbar spinal stenosis with either a minimally invasive bilateral laminotomy for central decompression, unilateral laminectomy as an over-the-top procedure for bilateral decompression, or traditional wide laminectomy with removal of the spinous processes on both sides. The following radiographic parameters were measured: sagittal vertical axis (SVA), lumbar lordosis (LL), pelvic tilt (PT), pelvic incidence (PI), PI-LL mismatch, coronal Cobb angle, and sacral slope (SS). Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) were collected, including scores on the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), visual analog scale (VAS) for leg and back pain, and EQ-5D.

RESULTS Forty-five patients (24 males) with a mean ± SD age of 71.8 ± 5.6 years were included. Sagittal balance showed statistically significant improvement, with the mean SVA decreasing from 52.3 mm preoperatively to 33.9 mm postoperatively (p = 0.0001). The authors found an increase in LL, from mean −41.5° preoperatively to −43.9° postoperatively, but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.055). A statistically significant decrease in PI-LL mismatch from mean 8.4° preoperatively to 5.8° postoperatively was found (p = 0.002). All PROM scores showed significant improvement after spinal decompression surgery. The correlations between SVA and all PROMs were statistically significant at both preoperative and postoperative time points, although most correlations were weak except for those between preoperative SVA and ODI (r = 0.55) and between SVA and VAS for leg pain (r = 0.58).

CONCLUSIONS Sagittal balance and PROMs show improvement at short-term follow-up evaluations in patients who have undergone decompression alone for lumbar spinal stenosis.