Outcome of unilateral versus standard open midline approach for bilateral decompression in lumbar spinal stenosis: is “over the top” really better?

J Neurosurg Spine 31:236–245, 2019

In this retrospective analysis of a prospective multicenter cohort study, the authors assessed which surgical approach, 1) the unilateral laminotomy with bilateral spinal canal decompression (ULBD; also called “over the top”) or 2) the standard open bilateral decompression (SOBD), achieves better clinical outcomes in the long-term follow-up. The optimal surgical approach (ULBD vs SOBD) to treat lumbar spinal stenosis remains controversial.

METHODS The main outcomes of this study were changes in a spinal stenosis measure (SSM) symptoms score, SSM function score, and quality of life (sum score of the 3-level version of the EQ-5D tool [EQ-5D-3L]) over time. These outcome parameters were measured at baseline and at 12-, 24-, and 36-month follow-ups. To obtain an unbiased result on the effect of ULBD compared to SOBD the authors used matching techniques relying on propensity scores. The latter were calculated based on a logistic regression model including relevant confounders. Additional outcomes of interest were raw changes in main outcomes and in the Roland and Morris Disability Questionnaire from baseline to 12, 24, and 36 months.

RESULTS For this study, 277 patients met the inclusion criteria. One hundred forty-nine patients were treated by ULBD, and 128 were treated by SOBD. After propensity score matching, 128 patients were left in each group. In the matched cohort, the mean (95% CI) estimated differences between ULBD and SOBD for change in SSM symptoms score from baseline to 12 months were -0.04 (-0.25 to 0.17), to 24 months -0.07 (-0.29 to 0.15), and to 36 months -0.04 (-0.28 to 0.21). For change in SSM function score, the estimated differences from baseline to 12 months were 0.06 (-0.08 to 0.21), to 24 months 0.08 (-0.07 to 0.22), and to 36 months 0.01 (-0.16 to 0.17). Differences in changes between groups in EQ-5D-3L sum scores were estimated to be -0.32 (-4.04 to 3.40), -0.89 (-4.76 to 2.98), and -2.71 (-7.16 to 1.74) from baseline to 12, 24, and 36 months, respectively. None of the group differences between ULBD and SOBD were statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS Both surgical techniques, ULBD and SOBD, may provide effective treatment options for DLSS patients. The authors further determined that the patient outcome results for the technically more challenging ULBD seem not to be superior to those for the SOBD even after 3 years of follow-up.


Intrawound Vancomycin Decreases the Risk of Surgical Site Infection After Posterior Spine Surgery: A Multicenter Analysis

Spine 2018;43:65–71

Study Design. Secondary analysis of data from a prospective multicenter observational study.

Objective. The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of surgical site infection (SSI) in patients with and without intrawound vancomycin application controlling for confounding factors associated with higher SSI after elective spine surgery.

Summary of Background Data. SSI is a morbid and expensive complication associated with spine surgery. The application of intrawound vancomycin is rapidly emerging as a solution to reduce SSI following spine surgery. The impact of intrawound vancomycin has not been systematically studied in a welldesigned multicenter study.

Methods. Patients undergoing elective spine surgery over a period of 4 years at seven spine surgery centers across the United States were included in the study. Patients were dichotomized on the basis of whether intrawound vancomycin was applied. Outcomes were occurrence of SSI within postoperative 30 days and SSI that required return to the operating room (OR). Multivariable random-effect log-binomial regression analyses were conducted to determine the relative risk of having an SSI and an SSI with return to OR.

Results. A total of 2056 patients were included in the analysis. Intrawound vancomycin was utilized in 47% (n=966) of patients. The prevalence of SSI was higher in patients with no vancomycin use (5.1%) than those with use of intrawound vancomycin (2.2%). The risk of SSI was higher in patients in whom intrawound vancomycin was not used (relative risk (RR) – 2.5, P<0.001), increased number of levels exposed (RR -1.1, P=0.01), and those admitted postoperatively to intensive care unit (ICU) (RR -2.1, P=0.005). Patients in whom intrawound vancomycin was not used (RR -5.9, P<0.001), increased number of levels were exposed (RR-1.1, P=0.001), and postoperative ICU admission (RR -3.3, P<0.001) were significant risk factors for SSI requiring a return to the OR.

Conclusion. The intrawound application of vancomycin after posterior approach spine surgery was associated with a reduced risk of SSI and return to OR associated with SSI.

Level of Evidence: 2