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Fusion adds little value to decompression for lumbar spinal stenosis, studies show

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 14 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2132
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

Fusion of affected vertebrae in treating lumbar spinal stenosis achieves no improvement in clinical outcomes, including disability due to low back pain, when compared with decompression surgery, the results of two randomised trials have shown.1 2

Lumbar spinal stenosis is caused by gradual narrowing of the spinal canal and typically causes low back and leg pain, particularly when walking. It is now the commonest indication for spinal surgery, which involves decompression of neural structures by laminectomy. The additional use of lumbar fusion to fuse two or more vertebrae with the aim of minimising spinal instability is growing, …

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