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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 99-103

Lumbar spine decompression with or without instrumentation in a limited resource setting


1 Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria
2 Department of Community Health, State Specialist Hospital, Ondo, Nigeria

Date of Submission14-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance05-Jun-2020
Date of Web Publication11-Nov-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Adetunji M Toluse
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma, National Orthopaedic Hospital, P.M.B 2009, Yaba, Lagos State
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ais.ais_17_20

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  Abstract 


Background: Lumbar degenerative spine disease is a leading cause of chronic low back pain and disability. Surgery is indicated to improve clinical condition when non operative measures fail. The objective of this study is to determine the outcome of lumbar spine decompression with or without instrumented fusion in the management of lumbar spine degenerative disease.
Objectives: To determine the outcome of lumbar spine decompression with or without instrumented fusion in the management of lumbar spine degenerative disease.
Patients and Methods: Study was retrospective in design and carried out at the Orthopedic Department of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Lagos. Records of patients who had surgery for lumbar spine degenerative disease between 2007 and 2016 were retrieved. Variables of interest extracted included indication for surgery, type of surgery, complications, neurologic outcome, and length of follow-up. Descriptive and Chi-square analysis were done using SPSS version 16.0.
Results: Eighty-eight patients had surgery of which sixty-five were analyzed. Duration of follow-up was 12–96 months (mean 31.7 ± 21.4 months). The age range was 32–75 years (mean 58 ± 9 years) with male:female ratio of 1:1.3. Fifty-three (81.5%) had improved pain relief, of which 7 (10.8%) had pain relapse at mean of 27.5 months post operative. Twenty-six (40%) had pre operative limb weakness of which 16/26 (61.5%) improved, 10/26 (38.5%) had no changes, while 2/26 (7.8%) had worse neurology after surgery. The complications included wound infection (7.7%), implant-related (6.2%) and dural tear (3.1%). Surgical technique (“decompression alone” vs “decompression and instrumented fusion”) and complications (none/any complication) are significantly associated with a likelihood ratio of P = 0.023. Reoperation rate was 7.7%.
Conclusion: The addition of pedicle screw instrumented fusion does not seem to offer additional benefit with respect to long-term back pain and leg pain control; however, complication rate is notably higher.

Keywords: Degenerative spine disease, lumbar spine decompression, pedicle screw instrumented fusion, posterolateral fusion, spinal stenosis


How to cite this article:
Toluse AM, Alimi MF, Gbadegesin SA, Ogundele OO. Lumbar spine decompression with or without instrumentation in a limited resource setting. Arch Int Surg 2019;9:99-103

How to cite this URL:
Toluse AM, Alimi MF, Gbadegesin SA, Ogundele OO. Lumbar spine decompression with or without instrumentation in a limited resource setting. Arch Int Surg [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Mar 6];9:99-103. Available from: https://www.archintsurg.org/text.asp?2019/9/4/99/300558




  Introduction Top


Lumbar degenerative spine disease is a leading cause of chronic low back pain and disability. It is often characterized by a compression of the neural elements, resulting in radicular pain and neurogenic claudication, weakness, numbness/tingling, and (often) pain in the lower back or buttocks.[1] Surgery is indicated to improve clinical condition when non operative measures fail. The indications for surgery are usually based on the relationship between clinical findings, imaging studies, and pain symptoms.[2],[3],[4]

The surgical management for degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis includes single or multilevel decompressive laminectomy with or without lumbar fusion.[5] Decompression surgery without fusion has been proven to be beneficial to patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.[6],[7],[8],[9] However, some studies have shown that the addition of instrumented fusion is desirable for patients, because this procedure had acceptable surgical results, especially where there is spinal instability.[10],[11] This study analyzes the patient demographics, presenting symptoms, operative procedure, complications, and neurologic outcomes of patients who underwent elective spine decompression with or without instrumented fusion for lumbar spinal stenosis with a minimum follow-up of 12 months. The objective is to evaluate the benefits of lumbar spine decompression vis-à-vis amelioration of back pain, leg pain, and improved muscle power in the lower limbs. We aim to see if addition of pedicle screw instrumented fusion confers additional benefits compared to patients who had lumbar decompression as standalone procedure after a minimum follow-up of 12 months.


  Materials and Methods Top


The study was retrospective in design and carried out at the Orthopedic Department of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Lagos. Case records of patients who had surgery for lumbar spine degenerative disease between January 2007 and December 2016 were retrieved. Details such as socio demographics, indication for and type of surgery, complications, neurologic outcome, and length of follow-up were extracted and recorded. Included in the study were all adult patients who had spine surgery for degenerative lumbar spine disease with not less than 1 year follow-up. Intraoperative C-arm fluoroscopy was utilized for all procedures to confirm correct level of surgery and also screw placement in cases in which instrumented fusion was done. Patients with less than one year of outpatient follow-up were excluded from the study. Patients were examined for follow-up at 3 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and then 6 monthly intervals. The improvement of muscle power in the lower limbs was measured using the Medical Research Council (MRC) grading system. Patients' satisfaction with the outcome of surgery was assessed based on the 5-point Likert scale, which was dichotomized into “good” (helped a lot, helped) and “poor” (helped only little, did not help, made things worse).

Statistical analysis

Descriptive analysis was used for the socio demographic characterization of the patients. The Chi-square (χ2) test/likelihood ratio Chi-square test was used to assess the statistical significance of the bivariate associations at P < 0.05. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS Inc., Chicago) version 16.0 was used for data analysis. A total of 88 case records were retrieved using patient register for this period.


  Results Top


Eighty-eight patients had surgery during the study period of which sixty-five met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Duration of follow-up was 12–96 months (mean 31.7 ± 21.4 months). The age range was 32–75 years (mean 58 ± 9 years) with male: female ratio of 1:1.3. Thirty-nine (60.0%) had decompression alone while twenty six (40.0%) had decompression + pedicle screw instrumented posterolateral fusion. L4/5 was mostly affected and decompressed in 61 (93.8%) patients [Table 1].
Table 1: Operated levels

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Twenty-six (40%) had pre operative limb weakness of which 16/26 (61.5%) improved, 10/26 (38.5%) had no changes, while 2/26 (7.8%) had worse neurology after surgery. None of them had symptoms and signs of cauda equina syndrome pre-operatively or post-operatively. Fifty-three (81.5%) had improved pain relief, of which seven (10.8%) had pain relapse at mean of 27.5 months (range 13–36 months) post operative. Ten (15.4%) reported no improvement in pain symptoms while two (3.1%) said symptoms were worse post-op. Based on the 5-point Likert scale, which was dichotomized into “good” (helped a lot, helped) and “poor” (helped only little, did not help, made things worse), surgical technique and pain improvement showed no significant association with a likelihood ratio P = 0.896 [Table 2].
Table 2: Cross-tabulation of surgical technique and Likert scale outcome

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The complications recorded include wound infection (7.7%), implant-related (6.2%), dural tear (3.1%). Complication rate was higher in instrumented decompression. Surgical technique (“decompression alone” vs “decompression and instrumented fusion”) and complications (none/any complication) are significantly associated with a likelihood ratio of P = 0.023 [Table 3]. Re operation rate was 7.7%. The indications for re operation included re adjustment of malpositioned screw and revision for implant loosening.
Table 3: Cross-tabulation of surgical technique and complications

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  Discussion Top


Lumbar degenerative spine disease is a leading cause of chronic low back pain and disability. Epidemiological reports in the study by Levy[12] found a male preponderance, whereas Mijiyawa et al.[13] had a female preponderance. The male to female ratio in our study shows no significant gender association and this compares with the reports of Andrews et al.[14] So far, gender has not been proven in literature as a risk factor for lumbar degenerative spine disease. However, it is widely known that prevalence of degenerative joint diseases (of which the spine is no exception) increases with age. Lumbar degenerative spine disease manifesting as chronic low back pain with or without radicular symptoms constitutes enormous socioeconomic burden; hence, the need for surgical intervention when non operative measures fail.

Lumbar spine surgery is an option in the management of lumbar degenerative spine disease especially following failure of conservative measures. Several surgical approaches and options have been described with good results. For a posterior surgery, the options include standalone decompression or in combination with pedicle screw plus rod instrumentation and posterolateral fusion.[15] The choice of instrumentation in patients with chronic low back pain is still controversial.[16] There is no consensus on the single best treatment option for these patients. Endler et al.[17] noted in their publication that all patient reported outcomes improved after surgery, but were without statistically significant differences at 1-, 2-, and 6.9-year follow-ups whether non-instrumented or instrumented. Several other authors also reported similar findings.[18],[19],[20],[21] However, Ghogawala et al.[22] reported that posterolateral instrumented fusion was associated with slightly greater but clinically meaningful improvement in overall physical health-related quality of life than decompression alone.

The goal of decompression surgery, which entails relieving pressure on compressed neural tissues by laminectomy, foraminotomy, and osteophyte removal is to relieve back and leg pains. The majority of the patients in our study reported improvement in back pain and leg pain post operatively. This finding has also been reported in studies.[7],[23] In the study by Cornefjord et al.[23] a significant improvement regarding both low back pain and leg pain was found postoperatively compared to preoperatively. They also noted in their report that there was no statistical difference by all the evaluated parameters in the clinical outcome between patients who had pedicle screw instrumented fusion and those who had lumbar spine decompression alone. The finding in this present study is similar to what they reported. It is however noteworthy that improvement in both pain sites tends to worsen with time in a number of patients. Several reasons have been expounded for this phenomenon, including progression of the underlying spondylosis condition, inactivity combined with ageing, and adjacent segment degeneration. Psychological and sociological factors have also been implicated. As last follow-up visits, most of the patients with relapse of pain in our study were content with non operative pain management modalities that is analgesics and physical therapy. At follow-up, Cornefjord et al.[23] reported that 25% of their patients used analgesics daily, while 35% took analgesics occasionally.

Another important goal of decompression is improvement of neurologic deficits. It is expected that once the compression lesion has been dealt with, there should be improved blood supply and nutrition of the neural tissues with consequent resolution of inflammation and reversal of neurologic deficits. Our study shows neurologic improvement rate of 61.5%. This is comparable with studies that have reported recovery rates between 61% and 84%.[24],[25],[26] Girardi et al.[26] found no statistically significant prognostic factor for neurologic recovery. They found no significant relationship between extent of recovery and age, diagnosis (herniated disc, lumbar spinal stenosis), duration of symptoms, or severity of preoperative weakness. Some studies[24],[25] found duration of deficit (<4 weeks) to be a significant predictor of recovery. They postulated that the duration of neural inflammation as a result of compression may be responsible, presuming that acute inflammation resolves better. However, they also acknowledged in their report that the perceived benefit may also depend on patient factors. All the patients in our study presented with deficits of duration longer than 3 months. This may account for the recovery rate seen to be closer to lower limit of the range reported in literature.

Spine surgery, like every operative intervention, is not devoid of complications. Overall complication rate is higher in instrumented surgeries. Reasons that can be attributed for this include increased surgical time, operative technicality, and complexity. Wound infection is a significant complication of posterior spine surgery. It is quite distressing to both patient and surgeon, and remains among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality. Aside patient related factors, the proximity of the incision to peri-anal region, extensive dissection, and retraction of posterior spinal musculature are predisposing factors. Incidence of postoperative surgical site infection has been reported between 0.1 and 6.7%.[27],[28] Other reports have also cited incidence as high as 16.7%[29],[30] following posterior spine surgery. Incidence of surgical site infection in our study is less than 10%. Dessy et al.[27] observed that instituting enhanced antibiotic prophylactic protocol is beneficial in reducing the incidence of surgical site infections. In their report, antibiotic prophylaxis was continued until drain removal in patients who had posterior instrumentation and a decline of infection rate from 2.28% to 0 was recorded. The surgical site infections in our study progressed to heal following serial wound dressing, antibiotic therapy. Wound debridement was done in the patients that had deep surgical site infection. Anjarwalla et al.[31] in their report of outcome of spinal decompression surgery had zero re-operation in all of their patients that returned for follow-up assessments at 5 years. Though the initial pain improvement diminished over the period, it was not sufficient to warrant re operation. Mannion et al.[32] reported re operation rate of 24% at an average of 29.1 ± 20.9 months (range 0.3–59.6 months) after the primary surgery. Our finding was a re-operation rate of 7.7%. Only one of our patients with significant pain relapse consented to re-operation at 18 months for hardware revision, on account of loosening. We recorded an instance of incidental durotomy in each group, and this were repaired intra-operatively with autogenous fat patch. There was no post operative sequelae.


  Conclusion Top


There is good surgical outcome in carefully selected patients with lumbar spine degenerative disease. The addition of pedicle screw instrumented fusion does not seem to offer additional benefit with respect to long-term back pain and leg pain control; however, complication rate is notably higher.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patients have given their consent for their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
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