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Purpose: To measure outcome in patients undergoing decompression for lumbar canal stenosis (LCS) by lami-nectomy.

Methods: 100 patients (57 men, 43 women) under one consultant surgeon presenting with neurogenic claudication and MRI confirmed LCS were studied . 23 patients had pre –existing spondylolisthesis (21 Grade 1, 2 Grade-2) and were managed by laminectomy without fixation. Patients completed a set of outcome measure questionnaires (SF-36, Visual analogue scores for back pain, leg pain, leg sensory symptoms and the Roland-Morris back disability score) pre-operatively, 3 months post surgery and at longer term follow up (median 2 years). Outcome scores were analysed and for SF-36 compared to age matched normative data. Statistical significance was calculated using Wilcoxon’s matched pairs and correlations using Spearman’s rank test. Statistical analysis was performed using the SPSS statistical package.

Results: Average age 68 years (inter-quartile range 60 – 77). For the cohort visual analogue scores and Roland scores showed significant improvement (p < 0.01) at both 3 months and at long term follow up compared to pre-operative scores. For the physical functioning domain of SF-36, outcome scores improved significantly (p< 0.01) at short and long term follow up with 80% of patients having better long term scores compared to pre-operative scores. The physical functioning domain of SF-36 was significantly correlated with the changes seen in the visual analogue pain scores and the Roland back pain score (p < 0.01). Outcome for the spondylo-listhesis subgroup was similar to the outcome in patients without pre existing spondylolisthesis.

Conclusions: Laminectomy for lumbar canal stenosis is an effective treatment resulting in significant health gains which are maintained in the longer term. Our data validates SF-36 as a measurement of disease severity and outcome in this condition.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Sue Woodward, Secreteriat, Britspine, Vale Clinic, Hensol Park, Vale of Glamorgan, CF72 8JY Wales.