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1.  The Clinical Effect of Gait Load Test in Two Level Lumbar Spinal Stenosis 
Asian Spine Journal  2009;3(2):96-100.
Study Design
This study is a prospective, clinical study assessing the efficacy of selective decompression of the level responsible in a two-level stenosis in accordance with the neurological findings defined by the gait load test with a treadmill.
To clarify the clinical features of multilevel lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) regarding the neurological level responsible for the symptoms, neurogenic claudication, and outcomes of selective decompression.
Overview of Literature
Most spine surgeons have reported that multilevel compression of the cauda equina induces a more severe impairment of the nerve function than a single-level compression. However, the clinical effects of multilevel LSS on the cauda equine and nerve roots are unknown.
A total of 21 patients with lumbar spinal canal stenosis due to spondylosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis were selected. The level responsible for the symptoms in the two-level stenosis was determined from the neurological findings on the gait load test and functional diagnosis based on a selective nerve root block. All patients underwent a prospective, selective decompression at the level neurologically responsible only. The average follow-up period was 2.6 years (range, 1 to 6 years). The postsurgical outcome was defined using the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) at the post-gait load test, 2 weeks after surgery, 3 months after surgery and at the last follow up.
Before surgery, the mean threshold distance and mean walking tolerance was 34.3 m and 113 m, respectively. All patients had neurogenic claudication and 19 of the patients had cauda equina syndrome, including hypesthesia in 11 cases, muscle weakness in 5 cases and radicular pain in 7 cases. Selective nerve blocks to determine the level responsible for the lumbosacral symptoms in 2 cases revealed a mean VAS score of 7.1, 2.61, 3.04, and 3.47 at the post-gait load test, 2 weeks after surgery, 3 months after surgery and at the last follow up, respectively. All subjects underwent surgery. After the operation, neurogenic claudication with or without cauda equna syndrome subsided in all patients.
The gait load test allows an objective and quantitative evaluation of the gait characteristics of patients with lumbar canal stenosis and is useful for determining the appropriate level for surgical treatment.
PMCID: PMC2852081  PMID: 20404954
Gait load test; Neurogenic claudication; Lumbar canal stenosis
2.  High failure rate of the interspinous distraction device (X-Stop) for the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis 
European Spine Journal  2007;17(2):188-192.
The X-Stop interspinous distraction device has shown to be an attractive alternative to conventional surgical procedures in the treatment of symptomatic degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis. However, the effectiveness of the X-Stop in symptomatic degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis is not known. A cohort of 12 consecutive patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis were treated with the X-Stop interspinous distraction device. All patients had low back pain, neurogenic claudication and radiculopathy. Pre-operative radiographs revealed an average slip of 19.6%. MRI of the lumbosacral spine showed a severe stenosis. In ten patients, the X-Stop was placed at the L4–5 level, whereas two patients were treated at both, L3–4 and L4–5 level. The mean follow-up was 30.3 months. In eight patients a complete relief of symptoms was observed post-operatively, whereas the remaining 4 patients experienced no relief of symptoms. Recurrence of pain, neurogenic claudication, and worsening of neurological symptoms was observed in three patients within 24 months. Post-operative radiographs and MRI did not show any changes in the percentage of slip or spinal dimensions. Finally, secondary surgical treatment by decompression with posterolateral fusion was performed in seven patients (58%) within 24 months. In conclusion, the X-Stop interspinous distraction device showed an extremely high failure rate, defined as surgical re-intervention, after short term follow-up in patients with spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis. We do not recommend the X-Stop for the treatment of spinal stenosis complicating degenerative spondylolisthesis.
PMCID: PMC2226191  PMID: 17846801
Lumbar spinal stenosis; X-Stop; Degenerative spondylolisthesis
3.  High failure rate of the interspinous distraction device (X-Stop) for the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis 
European Spine Journal  2007;17(2):188-192.
The X-Stop interspinous distraction device has shown to be an attractive alternative to conventional surgical procedures in the treatment of symptomatic degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis. However, the effectiveness of the X-Stop in symptomatic degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis is not known. A cohort of 12 consecutive patients with symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis were treated with the X-Stop interspinous distraction device. All patients had low back pain, neurogenic claudication and radiculopathy. Pre-operative radiographs revealed an average slip of 19.6%. MRI of the lumbosacral spine showed a severe stenosis. In ten patients, the X-Stop was placed at the L4–5 level, whereas two patients were treated at both, L3–4 and L4–5 level. The mean follow-up was 30.3 months. In eight patients a complete relief of symptoms was observed post-operatively, whereas the remaining 4 patients experienced no relief of symptoms. Recurrence of pain, neurogenic claudication, and worsening of neurological symptoms was observed in three patients within 24 months. Post-operative radiographs and MRI did not show any changes in the percentage of slip or spinal dimensions. Finally, secondary surgical treatment by decompression with posterolateral fusion was performed in seven patients (58%) within 24 months. In conclusion, the X-Stop interspinous distraction device showed an extremely high failure rate, defined as surgical re-intervention, after short term follow-up in patients with spinal stenosis caused by degenerative spondylolisthesis. We do not recommend the X-Stop for the treatment of spinal stenosis complicating degenerative spondylolisthesis.
PMCID: PMC2226191  PMID: 17846801
Lumbar spinal stenosis; X-Stop; Degenerative spondylolisthesis
4.  Successful operative management of an upper lumbar spinal canal stenosis resulting in multilevel lower nerve root radiculopathy 
Lumbar stenosis is a common disorder, usually characterized clinically by neurogenic claudication with or without lumbar/sacral radiculopathy corresponding to the level of stenosis. We present a case of lumbar stenosis manifesting as a multilevel radiculopathy inferior to the nerve roots at the level of the stenosis. A 55-year-old gentleman presented with bilateral lower extremity pain with neurogenic claudication in an L5/S1 distribution (posterior thigh, calf, into the foot) concomitant with dorsiflexion and plantarflexion weakness. Imaging revealed grade I spondylolisthesis of L3 on L4 with severe spinal canal stenosis at L3-L4, mild left L4-L5 disc herniation, no stenosis at L5-S1, and no instability. EMG revealed active and chronic L5 and S1 radiculopathy. The patient underwent bilateral L3-L4 hemilaminotomy with left L4-L5 microdiscectomy for treatment of his L3-L4 stenosis. Postoperatively, he exhibited significant improvement in dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. The L5-S1 level was not involved in the operative decompression. Patients with radiculopathy and normal imaging at the level corresponding to the radiculopathy should not be ruled out for operative intervention should they have imaging evidence of lumbar stenosis superior to the expected affected level.
PMCID: PMC4244769  PMID: 25552866
Neurogenic claudication; radiculopathy; surgical decompression; upper lumbar stenosis
5.  Spinaplasty following lumbar laminectomy for multilevel lumbar spinal stenosis to prevent iatrogenic instability 
Indian Journal of Orthopaedics  2011;45(5):396-403.
Iatrogenic instability following laminectomy occurs in patients with degenerative lumbar canal stenosis. Long segment fusions to obviate postoperative instability result in loss of motion of lumbar spine and predisposes to adjacent level degeneration. The best alternative would be an adequate decompressive laminectomy with a nonfusion technique of preserving the posterior ligament complex integrity. We report a retrospective analysis of multilevel lumbar canal stenosis that were operated for posterior decompression and underwent spinaplasty to preserve posterior ligament complex integrity for outcome of decompression and iatrogenic instability.
Materials and Methods:
610 patients of degenerative lumbar canal stenosis (n=520) and development spinal canal stenosis (n=90), with a mean age 58 years (33–85 years), underwent multilevel laminectomies and spinaplasty procedure. At followup, changes in the posture while walking, increase in the walking distance, improvement in the dysesthesia in lower limb, the motor power, capability to negotiate stairs and sphincter function were assessed. Forward excursion of vertebrae more than 4 mm in flexion–extension lateral X-ray of the spine as compared to the preoperative movements was considered as the iatrogenic instability. Clinical assessment was done in standing posture regarding active flexion–extension movement, lateral bending and rotations
All patients were followed up from 3 to 10 years. None of the patients had neurological deterioration or pain or catch while movement. Walking distance improved by 5–10 times, with marked relief (70–90%) in neurogenic claudication and preoperative stooping posture, with improvement in sensation and motor power. There was no significant difference in the sagittal alignment as well as anterior translation. Two patients with concomitant scoliosis and one with cauda equine syndrome had incomplete recovery. Two patients who developed disc protrusion, underwent a second operation for a symptomatic disc prolapse.
Spinaplasty following posterior decompression for multilevel lumbar canal stenosis is a simple operation, without any serious complications, retaining median structures, maintaining the tension band and the strength with least disturbance of kinematics, mobility, stability and lordosis of the lumbar spine.
PMCID: PMC3162674  PMID: 21886919
Decompression; laminectomies; lumbar canal stenosis; multilevel; posterior ligamentous complex; spinaplasty
6.  Cauda equina entrapment in a pseudomeningocele after lumbar Schwannoma extirpation 
European Spine Journal  2009;19(Suppl 2):158-161.
Incidental or intentional durotomy causing cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage, leading to the formation of a pseudomeningocele is a known complication in spinal surgery. Herniation of nerve roots into such a pseudomeningocele is very rare, but can occur up to years after initial durotomy and has been described to cause permanent neurologic deficit. However, cauda equina fiber herniation and entrapment into a pseudomeningocele has not been reported before. Here, we present a case of symptomatic transdural cauda equina herniation and incarceration into a pseudomeningocele, 3 months after extirpation of a lumbar Schwannoma. A 59-year-old man, who previously underwent intradural Schwannoma extirpation presented 3 months after surgery with back pain, sciatica and loss of bladder filling sensation caused by cauda equina fiber entrapment into a defect in the wall of a pseudomeningocele, diagnosed with magnetic resonance imaging. On re-operation, the pseudomeningocele was resected and the herniated and entrapped cauda fibers were released and replaced intradurally. The dura defect was closed and the patient recovered completely. In conclusion, CSF leakage can cause neurological deficit up to years after durotomy by transdural nerve root herniation and subsequent entrapment. Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of this potentially devastating complication. The present case also underlines the importance of meticulous dura closure in spinal surgery.
PMCID: PMC2899623  PMID: 19924448
Pseudomeningocele; Dura defect; Nerve root entrapment
7.  Clinical applications of diffusion magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar foraminal nerve root entrapment 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(11):1874-1882.
Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) can provide valuable structural information about tissues that may be useful for clinical applications in evaluating lumbar foraminal nerve root entrapment. Our purpose was to visualize the lumbar nerve root and to analyze its morphology, and to measure its apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in healthy volunteers and patients with lumbar foraminal stenosis using 1.5-T magnetic resonance imaging. Fourteen patients with lumbar foraminal stenosis and 14 healthy volunteers were studied. Regions of interest were placed at the fourth and fifth lumbar root at dorsal root ganglia and distal spinal nerves (at L4 and L5) and the first sacral root and distal spinal nerve (S1) on DWI to quantify mean ADC values. The anatomic parameters of the spinal nerve roots can also be determined by neurography. In patients, mean ADC values were significantly higher in entrapped roots and distal spinal nerve than in intact ones. Neurography also showed abnormalities such as nerve indentation, swelling and running transversely in their course through the foramen. In all patients, leg pain was ameliorated after selective decompression (n = 9) or nerve block (n = 5). We demonstrated the first use of DWI and neurography of human lumbar nerves to visualize and quantitatively evaluate lumbar nerve entrapment with foraminal stenosis. We believe that DWI is a potential tool for diagnosis of lumbar nerve entrapment.
PMCID: PMC2989261  PMID: 20632042
Diffusion-weighted imaging; Apparent diffusion coefficient; Lumbar foraminal stenosis; Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging; Neurography
8.  Partial Facetectomy for Lumbar Foraminal Stenosis 
Advances in Orthopedics  2014;2014:534658.
Background. Several different techniques exist to address the pain and disability caused by isolated nerve root impingement. Failure to adequately decompress the lumbar foramen may lead to failed back surgery syndrome. However, aggressive treatment often causes spinal instability or may require fusion for satisfactory results. We describe a novel technique for decompression of the lumbar nerve root and demonstrate its effectiveness in relief of radicular symptoms. Methods. Partial facetectomy was performed by removal of the medial portion of the superior facet in patients with lumbar foraminal stenosis. 47 patients underwent the procedure from 2001 to 2010. Those who demonstrated neurogenic claudication without spinal instability or central canal stenosis and failed conservative management were eligible for the procedure. Functional level was recorded for each patient. These patients were followed for an average of 3.9 years to evaluate outcomes. Results. 27 of 47 patients (57%) reported no back pain and no functional limitations. Eight of 47 patients (17%) reported moderate pain, but had no limitations. Six of 47 patients (13%) continued to experience degenerative symptoms. Five of 47 patients (11%) required additional surgery. Conclusions. Partial facetectomy is an effective means to decompress the lumbar nerve root foramen without causing spinal instability.
PMCID: PMC4119622  PMID: 25110591
9.  Degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis: correlation with Oswestry Disability Index and MR Imaging 
European Spine Journal  2008;17(5):679-685.
Because neither the degree of constriction of the spinal canal considered to be symptomatic for lumbar spinal stenosis nor the relationship between the clinical appearance and the degree of a radiologically verified constriction is clear, a correlation of patient’s disability level and radiographic constriction of the lumbar spinal canal is of interest. The aim of this study was to establish a relationship between the degree of radiologically established anatomical stenosis and the severity of self-assessed Oswestry Disability Index in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis. Sixty-three consecutive patients with degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis who were scheduled for elective surgery were enrolled in the study. All patients underwent preoperative magnetic resonance imaging and completed a self-assessment Oswestry Disability Index questionnaire. Quantitative image evaluation for lumbar spinal stenosis included the dural sac cross-sectional area, and qualitative evaluation of the lateral recess and foraminal stenosis were also performed. Every patient subsequently answered the national translation of the Oswestry Disability Index questionnaire and the percentage disability was calculated. Statistical analysis of the data was performed to seek a relationship between radiological stenosis and percentage disability recorded by the Oswestry Disability Index. Upon radiological assessment, 27 of the 63 patients evaluated had severe and 33 patients had moderate central dural sac stenosis; 11 had grade 3 and 27 had grade 2 nerve root compromise in the lateral recess; 22 had grade 3 and 37 had grade 2 foraminal stenosis. On the basis of the percentage disability score, of the 63 patients, 10 patients demonstrated mild disability, 13 patients moderate disability, 25 patients severe disability, 12 patients were crippled and three patients were bedridden. Radiologically, eight patients with severe central stenosis and nine patients with moderate lateral stenosis demonstrated only minimal disability on percentage Oswestry Disability Index scores. Statistical evaluation of central and lateral radiological stenosis versus Oswestry Disability Index percentage scores showed no significant correlation. In conclusion, lumbar spinal stenosis remains a clinico-radiological syndrome, and both the clinical picture and the magnetic resonance imaging findings are important when evaluating and discussing surgery with patients having this diagnosis. MR imaging has to be used to determine the levels to be decompressed.
PMCID: PMC2367417  PMID: 18324426
Spine, abnormalities; Spine, MR; Lumbar spinal stenosis; Oswestry Disability Index
10.  Midline synovial and ganglion cysts causing neurogenic claudication 
Typically situated posterolateral in the spinal canal, intraspinal facet cysts often cause radicular symptoms. Rarely, the midline location of these synovial or ganglion cysts may cause thecal sac compression leading to neurogenic claudication or cauda equina syndrome. This article summarizes the clinical presentation, radiographic appearance, and management of three intraspinal, midline facet cysts. Three patients with symptomatic midline intraspinal facet cysts were retrospectively reviewed. Documented clinical visits, operative notes, histopathology reports, and imaging findings were investigated for each patient. One patient presented with neurogenic claudication while two patients developed partial, subacute cauda equina syndrome. All 3 patients initially responded favorably to lumbar decompression and midline cyst resection; however, one patient required surgical stabilization 8 mo later. Following the three case presentations, we performed a thorough literature search in order to identify articles describing intraspinal cystic lesions in lateral or midline locations. Midline intraspinal facet cysts represent an uncommon cause of lumbar stenosis and thecal sac compression. Such entities should enter the differential diagnosis of midline posterior cystic lesions. Midline cysts causing thecal sac compression respond favorably to lumbar surgical decompression and cyst resection. Though laminectomy is a commonly performed operation, stabilization may be required in cases of spondylolisthesis or instability.
PMCID: PMC3868712  PMID: 24364023
Midline; Synovial; Ganglion; Intraspinal; Cyst; Neurogenic; Claudication; Laminectomy; Facet
11.  Motor conduction alterations in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis following the onset of neurogenic claudication 
European Spine Journal  1999;8(5):411-416.
The pathogenesis of neurogenic claudication is thought to lie in relative ischemia of cauda equina roots during exercise. In this study we will evaluate the effect of the transient ischemia brought on by exercise on motor conduction in patients suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). We will also evaluate the sensitivity of motor evoked potentials (MEPs) in detecting motor conduction abnormalities before and after the onset of neurogenic claudication. Thirty patients with LSS and 19 healthy volunteers were enrolled in the study. All LSS patients had a history of neurogenic claudication and the diagnosis was confirmed with a CT myelogram. Both groups underwent a complete electrophysiological evaluation of the lower extremities. The motor evoked potential latency time (MEPLT) and the peripheral motor conduction time (PMCT) were measured. The subjects were asked to walk on a flat surface until their symptoms were reproduced. A new set of electrophysiological tests was then performed. Exercise did not produce claudication in any of the control group subjects. Twenty-seven patients did have claudication. The pre-exercise MEPLT and nerve conduction studies in the control group fell within the normal range. In the patient group, 19 patients had increased baseline values for MEPLT to at least one muscle. There was a significant difference between the MEPLT and the PMCT values measured before and after exercise in the patients with signs of neurological deficit. This difference was not found to be significant in patients without neurological deficits (t-test P < 0.05). It may be concluded that exercise increases the sensitivity of MEPs in detecting the roots under functional compression in LSS.
PMCID: PMC3611201  PMID: 10552326
Key words Lumbar spinal stenosis; Motor evoked potentials; Neurogenic claudication; Physical exercise; Ischemia
12.  Interspinous posterior devices: What is the real surgical indication? 
Interspinous posterior device (IPD) is a term used to identify a relatively recent group of implants used to treat lumbar spinal degenerative disease. This kind of device is classified as part of the group of the dynamic stabilization systems of the spine. The concept of dynamic stabilization has been replaced by that of dynamic neutralization of hypermobility, with the intention of clarifying that the primary aim of this kind of system is not the preservation of the movement, but the dynamic neutralization of the segmental hypermobility which is at the root of the pathological condition. The indications for the implantation of an IPD are spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication, assuming that its function is the enlargement of the neural foramen and the decompression of the roots forming the cauda equina in the central part of the vertebral canal. In the last 10 years, use of these implants has been very common but to date, no long-term clinical follow-up regarding clinical and radiological aspects are available. The high rate of reoperation, recurrence of symptoms and progression of degenerative changes is evident in the literature. If these devices are effectively a miracle cure for lumbar spinal stenosis, why do the utilization and implantation of IPD remain extremely controversial and should they be investigated further? Excluding the problems related to the high cost of the device, the main problem remains the pathological substrate on which the device is explicit in its action: the degenerative pathology of the spine.
PMCID: PMC4163760  PMID: 25232541
Interspinous posterior device; Interspinous fusion device; Interspinous distraction; Motion preservation surgery; Spine surgery; Minimally invasive surgery
13.  Multimodal intraoperative monitoring (MIOM) during 409 lumbosacral surgical procedures in 409 patients 
European Spine Journal  2007;16(Suppl 2):221-228.
A prospective study on 409 patients who received multimodel intraoperative monitoring (MIOM) during lumbosacral surgical procedures between March 2000 and December 2005 was carried out. The objective of this study was to determine the sensitivity and specificity of MIOM techniques used to monitor conus medullaris, cauda equina and nerve root function during lumbosacral decompression surgery. MIOM has increasingly become important to monitor ascending and descending pathways, giving immediate feedback information regarding any neurological deficit during the decompression and stabilisation procedure in the lumbosacral region. Intraoperative spinal- and cortical-evoked potentials, combined with continuous EMG- and motor-evoked potentials of the muscles, were evaluated and compared with postoperative clinical neurological changes. A total of 409 consecutive patients with lumbosacral spinal stenosis with or without instability were monitored by MIOM during the entire surgical procedure. A total of 388 patients presented true-negative findings while two patients presented false negative and 1 patient false-positive findings. Eighteen patients presented true-positive findings where neurological deficit after the operation was intraoperatively predicted. Of the 18 true-positive findings, 12 patients recovered completely; however, 6 patients recovered only partially. The sensitivity of MIOM applied during decompression and fusion surgery of the lumbosacral region was calculated as 90%, and the specificity was calculated as 99.7%. On the basis of the results of this study, MIOM is an effective method of monitoring the conus medullaris, cauda equina and nerve root function during surgery at the lumbosacral junctions and might reduce postoperative surgical-related complications and therefore improve the long-term results.
PMCID: PMC2072902  PMID: 17912559
Spine surgery; Lumbar spinal stenosis; Intraoperative monitoring; Sensitivity; Specificity
14.  Vasodilative effects of prostaglandin E1 derivate on arteries of nerve roots in a canine model of a chronically compressed cauda equina 
Reduction of blood flow is important in the induction of neurogenic intermittent claudication (NIC) in lumbar spinal canal stenosis. PGE1 improves the mean walking distance in patients with NIC type cauda equina compression. PGE1 derivate might be effective in dilating blood vessels and improving blood flow in nerve roots with chronically compressed cauda equina. The aim of this study was to assess whether PGE1 derivate has vasodilatory effects on both arteries and veins in a canine model of chronic cauda equina compression.
Fourteen dogs were used in this study. A plastic balloon inflated to 10 mmHg was placed under the lamina of the 7th lumbar vertebra for 1 week. OP-1206-cyclodextrin clathrate (OP-1206-CD: prostaglandin E1 derivate) was administered orally. The blood vessels of the second or third sacral nerve root were identified using a specially designed surgical microscope equipped with a video camera. The diameter of the blood vessels was measured on video-recordings every 15 minutes until 90 minutes after the administration of the PGE1 derivate.
We observed seven arteries and seven veins. The diameter and blood flow of the arteries was significantly increased compared with the veins at both 60 and 75 minutes after administration of the PGE1 derivate (p < 0.05). Blood flow velocity did not change over 90 minutes in either the arteries or veins.
The PGE1 derivate improved blood flow in the arteries but did not induce blood stasis in the veins. Our results suggest that the PGE1 derivate might be a potential therapeutic agent, as it improved blood flow in the nerve roots in a canine model of chronic cauda equina compression.
PMCID: PMC2358890  PMID: 18394203
15.  Clinical features of conjoined lumbosacral nerve roots versus lumbar intervertebral disc herniations 
European Spine Journal  2010;19(7):1094-1098.
Unidentified nerve root anomalies, conjoined nerve root (CNR) being the most common, may account for some failed spinal surgical procedures as well as intraoperative neural injury. Previous studies have failed to clinically discern CNR from herniated discs and found their surgical outcomes as being inferior. A comparative study of CNR and disc herniations was undertaken. Between 2002 and 2008, 16 consecutive patients were diagnosed intraoperatively with CNR. These patients were matched 1:2 with 32 patients diagnosed with intervertebral disc herniations. Matching was done according to age (within 5 years), gender and level of pathology. Surgery for patients with CNR or disc herniations consisted of routine microsurgical techniques with microdiscectomy, hemilaminotomy, hemilaminectomy and foraminotomy as indicated. Outcomes were measured using the Oswestry Disability Index and the Short Form-36 Questionnaire. Clinical presentation, imaging studies and surgical outcomes were compared between the groups. Conjoined nerve root’s incidence in this study was 5.8% of microdiscectomies performed. The S1 nerve root was mainly involved (69%), followed by L5 (31%). Patients with CNR tended to present with nerve root claudication (44%) compared to the radiculopathy accompanying disc herniations (75%). Neurologic deficit was less prevalent among patients with CNR. Nerve root tension tests were not helpful in distinguishing between the etiologies. Radiologist’s suspicion threshold for nerve root anomalies was low (0%) and no coronal reconstructions were obtained. The surgeon’s clinical suspicion accurately predicted 40% of the CNRs. Surgical outcomes did not differ between the cohorts regarding the rate of postoperative improvement, but CNR patients showed a trend toward having mildly worse long-term outcomes. Suspecting CNRs preoperatively is beneficial for appropriate treatment and avoiding the risk of intraoperative neural injury. With nerve root claudication and imaging suggestive of a “disc herniation”, the surgeon should be alert to the differential diagnosis of a CNR. Treatment is directed at obtaining adequate decompression by laminectomy and foraminotomy to relieve the lateral recess stenosis. Outcomes can be expected to be similar to routine disc herniations.
PMCID: PMC2900016  PMID: 20602242
Conjoined lumbosacral nerve roots; Lumbar disc herniation; Surgical outcome; Nerve root anomalies
16.  Spinal stenosis: assessment of motor function, VEGF expression and angiogenesis in an experimental model in the rat 
European Spine Journal  2007;16(11):1913-1918.
Reduction of blood flow in compressed nerve roots is considered as one important mechanism of induction of neurogenic intermittent claudication in lumbar spinal canal stenosis. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a potent stimulator of angiogenesis, and is increased in expression in hypoxic conditions. The objective of this study was to examine if cauda equina compression affects motor function and induces expression of VEGF and angiogenesis. The cauda equina was compressed by placing a piece of silicone rubber into the L5 epidural space. Walking duration was examined by rota-rod testing. The compressed parts of the cauda equina and L5 dorsal root ganglion (DRG) were removed at 3, 7, 14, or 28 days after surgery, and processed for immunohistochemistry for VEGF and Factor VIII (marker for vascular endothelial cells). Numbers of VEGF-immunoreactive (IR) cells and vascular density were examined. Walking duration was decreased after induction of cauda equina compression. The number of VEGF-IR cells in the cauda equina and DRG was significantly increased at 3, 14, and 28 days after cauda equina compression, compared with sham-operated rats (P < 0.05). Vascular density in the cauda equina was not increased at any of the time points examined. Cauda equina compression decreased walking duration, and induced VEGF expression in nerve roots and DRG.
PMCID: PMC2223356  PMID: 17992557
Cauda equina compression; Intermittent claudication; Vascular endothelial growth factor; Angiogenesis
17.  Sacral laminoplasty and cystic fenestration in the treatment of symptomatic sacral perineural (Tarlov) cysts: Technical case report 
Perineural cysts of the sacrum, or Tarlov cysts, are cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-filled sacs that commonly occur at the intersection of the dorsal root ganglion and posterior nerve root in the lumbosacral spine. Although often asymptomatic, these cysts have the potential to produce significant symptoms, including pain, weakness, and/or bowel or bladder incontinence. We present a case in which the sacral roof is removed and reconstructed via plated laminoplasty and describe how this technique could be of potential use in maximizing outcomes.
We describe technical aspects of a sacral laminoplasty in conjunction with cyst fenestration for a symptomatic sacral perineural cyst in a 50-year-old female with severe sacral pain, lumbosacral radiculopathy, and progressive incontinence. This patient had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT)-myelographic evidence of a non-filling, 1.7 × 1.4 cm perineural cyst that was causing significant compression of the cauda equina and sacral nerve roots. This surgical technique was also employed in a total of 18 patients for symptomatic tarlov cysts with their radiographic and clinical results followed in a prospective fashion.
Intraoperative images, drawings, and video are presented to demonstrate both the technical aspects of this technique and the regional anatomy. Postoperative MRI scan demonstrated complete removal of the Tarlov cyst. The patient's symptoms improved dramatically and she regained normal bladder function. There was no evidence of radiographic recurrence at 12 months. At an average 16 month followup interval 10/18 patients had significant relief with mild or no residual complaints, 3/18 reported relief but had persistent coccydynia around the surgical area, 2/18 had primary relief but developed new low back pain and/or lumbar radiculopathy, 2/18 remained at their preoperative level of symptoms, and 1/18 had relief of their preoperative leg pain but developed new pain and neurological deficits.
Sacral laminoplasty and microscopic cystic fenestration is a feasible approach in the operative treatment of this difficult, and often controversial, spinal pathology. This technique may be used further and studied in an attempt to minimize potential surgical morbidity, including CSF leaks, cyst recurrence, and sacral insufficiency fractures.
PMCID: PMC3205499  PMID: 22059124
Laminoplasty; perineural cyst; sacral; Tarlov cyst
18.  Clinical classification of cauda equina syndrome for proper treatment 
Acta Orthopaedica  2010;81(3):391-395.
Background and purpose
Cauda equina syndrome (CES) is a severe complication of lumbar spinal disorders; it results from compression of the nerve roots of the cauda equina. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical usefulness of a classification scheme of CES based on factors including clinical symptoms, imaging signs, and electrophysiological findings.
The records of 39 patients with CES were divided into 4 groups based on clinical features as follows. Group 1 (preclinical): low back pain with only bulbocavernosus reflex and ischiocavernosus reflex abnormalities. Group 2 (early): saddle sensory disturbance and bilateral sciatica. Group 3 (middle): saddle sensory disturbance, bowel or bladder dysfunction, motor weakness of the lower extremity, and reduced sexual function. Group 4 (late): absence of saddle sensation and sexual function in addition to uncontrolled bowel function. The outcome including radiographic and electrophysiological findings was compared between groups.
The main clinical manifestations of CES included bilateral saddle sensory disturbance, and bowel, bladder, and sexual dysfunction. The clinical symptoms of patients with multiple-segment canal stenosis identified radiographically were more severe than those of patients with single-segment stenosis. BCR and ICR improved in groups 1 and 2 after surgery, but no change was noted for groups 3 and 4.
We conclude that bilateral radiculopathy or sciatica are early stages of CES and indicate a high risk of development of advanced CES. Electrophysiological abnormalities and reduced saddle sensation are indices of early diagnosis. Patients at the preclinical and early stages have better functional recovery than patients in later stages after surgical decompression.
PMCID: PMC2876846  PMID: 20443745
19.  Lumbar Nerve Root Occupancy in the Foramen in Achondroplasia 
Lumbar stenosis is common in patients with achondroplasia because of narrowing of the neural canal. However, it is unclear what causes stenosis, narrowing of the central canal or foramina. We performed a morphometric analysis of the lumbar nerve roots and intervertebral foramen in 17 patients (170 nerve roots and foramina) with achondroplasia (eight symptomatic, nine asymptomatic) and compared the data with that from 20 (200 nerve roots and foramina) asymptomatic patients without achondroplasia presenting with low back pain without neurologic symptoms. The measurements were made on left and right parasagittal MRI scans of the lumbar spine. The foramen area and root area were reduced at all levels from L1 to L5 between the patients with achondroplasia (Groups I and II) and the nonachondroplasia group (Group III). The percentage of nerve root occupancy in the foramen between Group I and Group II as compared with the patients without achondroplasia was similar or lower. This implied the lumbar nerve root size in patients with achondroplasia was smaller than that of the normal population and thus there is no effective nerve root compression. Symptoms of lumbar stenosis in achondroplasia may be arising from the central canal secondary to degenerative disc disease rather than a true foraminal stenosis.
Level of Evidence: Level I, prognostic study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
PMCID: PMC2504658  PMID: 18259829
20.  Central Decompressive Laminoplasty for Treatment of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis : Technique and Early Surgical Results 
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common degenerative spine disease that requires surgical intervention. Currently, there is interest in minimally invasive surgery and various technical modifications of decompressive lumbar laminectomy without fusion. The purpose of this study was to present the author's surgical technique and results for decompression of spinal stenosis.
The author performed surgery in 57 patients with lumbar spinal stenosis between 2006 and 2010. Data were gathered retrospectively via outpatient interviews and telephone questionnaires. The operation used in this study was named central decompressive laminoplasty (CDL), which allows thorough decompression of the lumbar spinal canal and proximal two foraminal nerve roots by undercutting the lamina and facet joint. Kyphotic prone positioning on elevated curvature of the frame or occasional use of an interlaminar spreader enables sufficient interlaminar working space. Pain was measured with a visual analogue scale (VAS). Surgical outcome was analyzed with the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI). Data were analyzed preoperatively and six months postoperatively.
The interlaminar window provided by this technique allowed for unhindered access to the central canal, lateral recess, and upper/lower foraminal zone, with near-total sparing of the facet joint. The VAS scores and ODI were significantly improved at six-month follow-up compared to preoperative levels (p<0.001, respectively). Excellent pain relief (>75% of initial VAS score) of back/buttock and leg was observed in 75.0% and 76.2% of patients, respectively.
CDL is easily applied, allows good field visualization and decompression, maintains stability by sparing ligament and bony structures, and shows excellent early surgical results.
PMCID: PMC4217056  PMID: 25368762
Spinal stenosis; Decompression; Laminoplasty; Facet joint; Stability
21.  Endoscopic Foraminal Decompression for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome under local Anesthesia 
The most common causes of failed back surgery are residual or recurrent herniation, foraminal fibrosis and foraminal stenosis that is ignored, untreated, or undertreated. Residual back ache may also be from facetal causes or denervation and scarring of the paraspinal muscles.1–6 The original surgeon may advise his patient that nothing more can be done on the basis of his opinion that the nerve was visually decompressed by the original surgery, supported by improved post-op imaging and follow-up studies such as EMG and conduction velocity studies. Post-op imaging or electrophysiological assessment may be inadequate to explain all the reasons for residual or recurrent symptoms. Treatment of Failed back surgery by repeat traditional open revision surgery usually incorporates more extensive decompression causing increased instability and back pain, therefore necessitating fusion. The authors, having limited their practice to endoscopic MIS surgery over the last 15-20 years, report on their experience gained during that period to relieve pain by endoscopically visualizing and treating unrecognized causative patho-anatomy in FBSS.7
Thirty consecutive patients with FBSS presenting with back and leg pain that had supporting imaging diagnosis of lateral stenosis and /or residual / recurrent disc herniation, or whose pain complaint was supported by relief from diagnostic and therapeutic injections (Figure 1), were offered percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy and foraminoplasty over a repeat open procedure. Each patient sought consultation following a transient successful, partially successful or unsuccessful open translaminar surgical treatment for disc herniation or spinal stenosis. Endoscopic foraminoplasty was also performed to either decompress the bony foramen for foraminal stenosis, or foraminoplasty to allow for endoscopic visual examination of the affected traversing and exiting nerve roots in the axilla, also known as the “hidden zone” of Macnab (Figure 2).8, 9 The average follow up time was, average 40 months, minimum 12 months. Outcome data at each visit included Macnab, VAS and ODI.
A diagnostic and therapeutic epidural gram may help identify unrecognized lateral recess stenosis underestimated by MRI. An excellent result from a therapeutic block lends excellent prognosis for a more lasting and “permanent” result from transforaminal endoscopic lateral recess decompression.
Kambin's Triangle provides access to the “hidden zone” of Macnab by foraminoplasty. The foramen and lateral recess is decompressed by removing the ventral aspect and tip of the superior articular process to gain access to the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve. FBSS contains patho-anatomy in the axilla between the traversing and exiting nerve that hides the pain generators of FBSS.
The average pre-operative VAS improved from 7.2 to 4.0, and ODI 48% to 31%. While temporary dysesthesia occurred in 4 patients in the early post-operative period, all were happy, as all received additional relief of their pre-op symptoms. They were also relieved to be able to avoid “open” decompression or fusion surgery.
Conclusions / Level of Evidence 3
The transforaminal endoscopic approach is effective for FBSS due to residual/recurrent HNP and lateral stenosis. Failed initial index surgery may involve failure to recognize patho-anatomy in the axilla of the foramen housing the traversing and the exiting nerve, including the DRG, which is located cephalad and near the tip of SAP.10 The transforaminal endoscopic approach effectively decompresses the foramen and does not further destabilize the spine needing stabilization.11 It also avoids going through the previous surgical site.
Clinical Relevance
Disc narrowing as a consequence of translaminar discectomy and progressive degenerative narrowing and spondylolisthesis (Figure 3) as a natural history of degenerative disc disease can lead to central and lateral stenosis. The MRI may underestimate the degree of stenosis from a bulging or a foraminal disc protrusion and residual lateral recess stenosis. Pain can be diagnosed and confirmed by evocative discography and by clinical response to transforaminal diagnostic and therapeutic steroid injections.12 Foraminal endoscopic decompression of the lateral recess is a MIS technique that does not “burn bridges” for a more conventional approach and it adds to the surgical armamentarium of FBSS.
Cadaver Illustration of Foraminal Stenosis (courtesy of Wolfgang Rauschning). As the disc narrows, the superior articular process impinges on the exiting nerve and DRG, creating lateral recess stenosis, lumbar spondylosis, and facet arthrosis.
PMCID: PMC4325507
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome(FBSS); Hidden zone; Foraminal decompression; Recurrent herniation; Lateral stenosis; Foraminal osteophyte
22.  Spinal Stenosis Presenting with Scrotal and Perianal Claudication 
Asian Spine Journal  2015;9(1):103-105.
A 63-year-old gentleman presented with a one-year duration of progressive neurogenic claudication. However, unlike most patients who presents with leg symptoms, his pain was felt in his scrotal and perianal region. This was exacerbated with walking and standing, but he had immediate relief with sitting. An magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was performed which showed severe central canal stenosis. An L3/4 and L4/5 surgical decompression and a transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion was performed, and the patient made good recovery with immediate resolution of symptoms. Although rare, spinal stenosis should be considered a differential when approaching a patient with perianal and scrotal claudication, even in the absence of leg claudication. An MRI is useful to confirm the diagnosis. This rare symptom may be a sign of severe cauda equina compression and we recommend decompression with predictable good results.
PMCID: PMC4330204
Spinal; Stenosis; Atypical; Claudication
23.  Lumbar microdiscectomy and lumbar decompression improve functional outcomes and depression scores 
Study design: Retrospective review.
Introduction: Lumbar radiculopathy and claudicant leg pain are common degenerative spinal conditions often treated by elective microdiscectomy or decompression. Published outcome data for these procedures have focused on improvement in pain scores, and not on grounded functional outcome or depression scores.1,2,3 Moreover, depression is considered by many surgeons to be a red flag for poor outcome for surgical treatment. We asked what effect lumbar microdiscectomy and laminectomy procedures had on functional outcome and depression scores in our clinical population.
Methods: Beginning in January 2010, the following outcome data were prospectively gathered before and after surgery from all patients at the Cleveland Clinic undergoing either lumbar microdiscectomy or lumbar decompression: EQ-5D (EuroQOL, quality-of-life measure), PHQ-9 (measure of depressive symptoms), PDQ (pain disability questionnaire), and Rankin scores (disability or dependence in daily activities).
Results: The mean EuroQOL scores improved by 35% (from 0.4–0.75 of a maximum of 1.0) for both microdiscectomy and lumbar laminectomies. The mean PHQ-9 scores (measure of depressive symptoms) significantly improved for most patients undergoing either procedure. In line with previously published reports, we also found improvement in Rankin scores and Pain Disability Questionnaire scores.
Conclusions: Our outcome data indicate that microdiscectomy and lumbar decompression not only reduce disability and pain but also improve depressive symptoms and overall quality of life for patients. These findings support operative treatment of lumbar radiculopathy and neurogenic claudication including treatment performed in the depressed population.
PMCID: PMC3592778  PMID: 23526915
24.  Recurrent adjacent segment disease and cauda equina syndrome 
European Spine Journal  2010;20(Suppl 2):258-261.
A case of cauda equina lesion as a result of recurrent adjacent segment degeneration (ASD) after multiple lumbar fusions is reported. ASD might be a consequence of biomechanical overload or simply a normal degenerative process. The reported clinical relevance of ASD is rather low. We describe an unusual case of cauda equina compression at L1–L2 in a patient who had undergone L2–L4 fusion 8 years previously and 2 decompression-fusion surgeries 16 years before.
Materials and methods
A 72-year-old man, who had two previous lumbar fusion–decompression procedures, underwent a third lumbar surgery in December 2000 to treat symptomatic spinal canal stenosis associated with L3–L4 pseudoarthrosis. After a symptom-free period of 8 years, the patient experienced low back pain radiating to both legs while standing, associated with saddle sensory disturbances and incontinence. Physical examination ruled out significant motor deficits. Plain radiographs showed solid fusion from L2 to L4, good spinal alignment, and low-grade L1–L2 retrolisthesis. Stainless steel pedicular instrumentation distorted magnetic resonance imaging, preventing adequate spinal canal evaluation. Electromyography demonstrated signs of cauda equina compression (bilateral L3–S2). CT myelography showed a stop at L1–L2, due to a severe spinal canal stenosis. L1–L2 decompression and fusion were performed.
After an uneventful surgery with no complications, the symptoms abated and incontinence recovered.
Even if the reported clinical relevance of ASD is very low, fused patients with a constitutional narrow spinal canal are at risk of developing severe neural compression at the level adjacent to the fusion.
PMCID: PMC3111525  PMID: 21191621
Recurrent disease; Adjacent segment; Cauda equina; Degenerative changes; Narrow spinal canal
25.  Limited Laminectomy and Restorative Spinoplasty in Spinal Canal Stenosis 
Asian Spine Journal  2014;8(4):462-468.
Study Design
Prospective cohort study.
Evaluation of the clinico-radiological outcome and complications of limited laminectomy and restorative spinoplasty in spinal canal stenosis.
Overview of Literature
It is critical to achieve adequate spinal decompression, while maintaining spinal stability.
Forty-four patients with degenerative lumbar canal stenosis underwent limited laminectomy and restorative spinoplasty at our centre from July 2008 to December 2010. Four patients were lost to follow-up leaving a total of 40 patients at an average final follow-up of 32 months (range, 24-41 months). There were 26 females and 14 males. The mean±standard deviation (SD) of the age was 64.7±7.6 years (range, 55-88 years). The final outcome was assessed using the Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score.
At the time of the final follow-up, all patients recorded marked improvement in their symptoms, with only 2 patients complaining of occasional mild back pain and 1 patient complaining of occasional mild leg pain. The mean±SD for the preoperative claudication distance was 95.2±62.5 m, which improved to 582±147.7 m after the operation, and the preoperative anterio-posterior canal diameter as measured on the computed tomography scan was 8.3±2.1 mm, which improved to 13.2±1.8 mm postoperatively. The JOA score improved from a mean±SD of 13.3±4.1 to 22.9±4.1 at the time of the final follow-up. As for complications, dural tears occurred in 2 patients, for which repair was performed with no additional treatment needed.
Limited laminectomy and restorative spinoplasty is an efficient surgical procedure which relieves neurogenic claudication by achieving sufficient decompression of the cord with maintenance of spinal stability.
PMCID: PMC4149989  PMID: 25187863
Lumbar spine; Lumbar canal stenosis; Decompression; Limited laminectomy; Spinoplasty

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