Samarth Mittal, Kaustubh Ahuja, P. V. Sudhakar, Syed Ifthekar, Gagandeep Yadav, Bhaskar Sarkar, Pankaj Kandwal

January 2022, pp 1 - 14 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-07078-7

First Online: 06 January 2022


Selection of anatomic region of spine for decompression in patients with symptomatic tandem spinal stenosis (TSS) remains a challenge due to the confusing clinical presentation as well as uncertain evidence. A systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies were conducted to compare the outcomes between simultaneous decompression of all stenotic regions (cervical and lumbar, Group 1) and decompression of only the most symptomatic stenotic region (cervical/lumbar, Group 2) in patients with TSS.


A systematic review was conducted, and a comprehensive literature search with well-established inclusion and exclusion criteria with JOA score as an outcome measure was done on PubMed, Google Scholar, and EMBASE database (till January 2021). Observational studies reporting outcomes after simultaneous decompression or only the most symptomatic region were included. NIH quality assessment tool was used to check the quality of each study, and treatment effects were calculated using Dersimonian and Laird random effects model.


Ten studies were included in the analysis out of which all were retrospective observational studies (Level 4 evidence) except one (Level 3 evidence). Overall proportional meta-analysis showed no significant difference in change in JOA scores, operative time, blood loss, total and major complications between Group 1 and Group 2. However, minor complications were significantly increased on performing decompression of both regions simultaneously (p = 0.04). On performing subgroup analysis comparing cervical surgery cohort with lumbar surgery cohort, no difference was found in change in JOA score and requirement of second-stage surgery.


Decompression of the most symptomatic region alone irrespective of its location has equal clinical outcomes with less complication rate than simultaneous decompression in patients with TSS.

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