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Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1999 Aug 1;24(15):1533-7.

Long-term clinical and magnetic resonance imaging follow-up assessment of patients with lumbar spinal stenosis after laminectomy.

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Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.



A cross-sectional retrospective study to observe the correlation between postoperation findings shown on magnetic resonance imaging and clinical observations of 56 patients 10 years after laminectomy for lumbar spinal stenosis.


To evaluate the relation between postoperation findings on magnetic resonance imaging and surgical outcome in patients surgically treated for lumbar spinal stenosis.


Surgical management of lumbar spinal stenosis is based on the compression seen in radiologic imaging of neurovascular structures in the vertebral canal, but the success of surgical decompression and its correlation with clinical observations very seldom have been monitored by postoperation radiologic imaging.


In this study, 56 patients surgically treated for lumbar spinal stenosis were re-examined clinically by use of the Oswestry disability questionnaire. Their walking capacity was evaluated by the treadmill test. Severity of pain before and after the treadmill test was investigated using a visual analog scale. Patients' perception of improvement measured as the change in their condition during the preceding 5 years was elicited by a questionnaire. On the basis of the stenotic findings on magnetic resonance imaging, the patients were classified into no stenosis (NoSten, n = 15) and stenosis (Sten, n = 41) groups, and a summative degenerative scale also was constructed with the findings categorized as follows: disc degeneration, disc herniation, facet joint arthrosis, and degenerative spondylolisthesis.


Whereas the patients' perception of improvement correlated very strongly with the Oswestry score and walking capacity, there was no statistical difference between the NoSten and Sten groups in the Oswestry score, walking capacity, perception of improvement, or severity of pain. The effect of the summative degenerative scale on the patients' walking capacity was 13 times greater than the effect of the minimum area of the dural sac.


Patients' perception of improvement had a much stronger correlation with long-term surgical outcome than structural findings seen on postoperation magnetic resonance imaging. Moreover, degenerative findings had a greater effect on patients' walking capacity than stenotic findings.

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