Saad Moughal, Michael C. Quaye, Salima Wahab, Jonathan Hempenstall, Colin Griffith, Jason Harvey, Kyriakos Giannoulis, Stephen McGillion, Emad Shenouda, Nicholas Brooke, Ali Nader-Sepahi, Christopher J. Dare, Anan Shtaya

November 2022, pp 1 - 13 Review Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07461-y

First Online: 27 November 2022


Microscopic unilateral laminotomy for bilateral decompression (ULBD) is a minimally invasive technique used in the treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis and could limit spinal instability and be associated with better clinical outcomes. However, there is ongoing debate regarding its utility compared to conventional laminectomy (CL). The primary objective was to collate and describe the current evidence base for ULBD, including perioperative parameters, functional outcomes, and complications. The secondary objective was to identify operative techniques.


A scoping review was conducted between January 1990 and August 2022 according to the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines. Major databases were searched for full text English articles reporting on outcomes following microscopic unilateral laminotomy in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis.


Seventeen articles met the inclusion criteria. Two studies were randomised controlled trials. Two studies were prospective data collection and the rest were retrospective analysis. Three studies compared ULBD with CL. ULBD preserves the osteoligamentous complex and may be associated with shorter operative time, less blood loss, and similar clinical outcomes when compared to CL.


This review highlights that ULBD aims to minimise disruption to the normal posterior spinal anatomy and may have acceptable clinical outcomes. It also highlights that it is difficult to draw valid conclusions given there are limited data available as most studies identified were retrospective or did not have a comparator group.

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