Sang-Youn Song, Dae Cheol Nam, Dong-Kyu Moon, Dong-Yeong Lee, Eun-Chang Lee, Dong-Hee Kim

March 2022, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 551 - 560 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-07045-2

First Online: 31 October 2021


To compare the outcomes of early (within 1 month after foot drop) decompression versus late (1 month or more after foot drop) decompression in order to determine the optimal surgical intervention timing for lumbar degenerative diseases.


The MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science and SCOPUS electronic databases were searched for relevant articles published until May 2021 were conducted. Cochrane Collaboration guidelines were used for data extraction and quality assessment. Outcomes of interest were manual muscle testing (MMT) and recovery rate (MMT ≥ 4) for foot drop in lumbar degenerative diseases.


Six clinical studies were retrieved, including 312 randomized participants. One hundred fifty-seven patients underwent early decompression surgery, and 155 underwent late decompression surgery. There were significant differences between the two groups in recovery rate (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.59, 2.57) and neurological improvement (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.21, 1.66). Early surgical decompression provided better recovery rate and neurological improvement for foot drop in lumbar degenerative diseases than late surgical decompression.


Early surgical decompression within was beneficial in terms of recovery rate and neurological improvement compared with late surgery. Early surgical decompression (within 1 month) is recommended for patients with foot drop in lumbar degenerative diseases.

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