Surgery for Your Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Patients? Maybe Not

By Jenni Laidman

Surgical vs Nonsurgical Treatment for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The incidence of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is estimated at 8%-11% of the population of the United States, with some 2.4 million Americans expected to be affected by 2021.[1] Many of these patients experience or will experience considerable pain.

The great question for orthopedic spine surgeons is whether to recommend surgery. For patients, it is whether surgery is worth the risk.

The largest randomized study to date to compare the outcomes of LSS surgery with those of nonsurgical treatment—the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT)—has offered some context for the answer, although the decision will still be individualized to the patient.[2] It found a distinct advantage for surgical treatment 4 years after surgery. But 4 years after that, the benefits between surgical and nonsurgical treatment were not significantly different.


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