Staged surgery for tandem cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis: Which should be treated first?

Staged surgery for tandem cervical and lumbar spinal stenosis: Which should be treated first?

Chi-An Luo, Arun-Kumar Kaliya-Perumal, Meng-Ling Lu, Lih-Huei Chen, Wen-Jer Chen, Chi-Chien Niu

October 2018, pp 1 - 8
DOI
10.1007/s00586-018-5795-6
First Online: 17 October 2018
Abstract

Purpose

Tandem spinal stenosis (TSS) refers to lumbar and cervical spinal canal stenosis. Staged surgery is often chosen, but sometimes, mere decompression of one stenosis is adequate to relieve symptoms. Therefore, we intend to analyze whether starting with the cervical or the lumbar region is the most logical option.

Methods

We retrospectively reviewed the data of 47 patients with TSS, having first-stage decompression for the most symptomatic stenosis, and classified into two groups (Group A: lumbar decompression first, Group B: cervical decompression first). Postoperative outcomes were analyzed for at least 2 years, and they were cautiously watched for symptoms of the non-operated stenosis; if such symptoms were debilitating, second-stage surgery for the non-operated stenosis was done.

Results

The demographic characteristics of Group A (n = 11) and Group B (n = 36) were comparable. One patient (9%) in Group A and 25 patients (67%) in Group B had resolution of symptoms and good functional recovery. The need for a second-stage surgery for the non-operated stenosis was significantly high (p = 0.001) among patients in Group A. They suffered a significant worsening of both the mJOA score and the Nurick’s grade; whereas, patients in Group B experienced staged improvement of both scales.

Conclusion

First-stage surgery for the cervical stenosis significantly lowers the need of the second-stage surgery. In contrast, if lumbar stenosis was treated first, a dramatic exacerbation of the symptoms related to the cervical stenosis can occur soon. Therefore, treatment of cervical stenosis first seems to be more appropriate.

Graphical abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]