, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 2611-2619
Date: 10 Jul 2012

Prediction of long-term clinical outcome in patients with lumbar spinal stenosis

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The natural course of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) fluctuates and is not necessarily progressive. The aim of this study was to explore the predictors of clinical outcome in patients with LSS that might eventually help to optimise the therapeutic choices.


A group of 56 patients (27 men, 29 women, median age 55; range 31–72 years) with clinically symptomatic mild-to-moderate LSS were re-examined after a median period of 88 months and their clinical outcomes classified as satisfactory (34 patients, 60.7 % with stable or improved clinical status) or unsatisfactory (22 patients, 39.3 % for whom clinical status deteriorated). A wide range of demographical, clinical, imaging and electrophysiological entry parameters were evaluated as possible predictors of clinical outcome.


Unlike the demographical, clinical and imaging variables, certain electrophysiological parameters were significantly associated with unsatisfactory outcomes. There was a significantly higher prevalence of pluriradicular involvement detected by EMG in patients with unsatisfactory outcome than those with satisfactory outcome (68.2 vs. 32.3 %; p = 0.035). Patients with unsatisfactory outcome had more frequent bilateral abnormalities of the soleus H-reflex (50.0 vs. 14.7 %; p = 0.015) and lower mean H-reflex amplitude. Multivariate logistic regression proposed two variables as mutually independent predictors of unsatisfactory outcome: EMG signs of pluriradicular involvement (OR = 3.72) and averaged soleus H-reflex amplitude ≤2.8 mV (OR = 2.87).


Satisfactory outcomes were disclosed in about 61 % of the patients with mild-to-moderate LSS in a 7-year follow-up. Electrophysiological abnormalities, namely the presence of pluriradicular involvement and abnormalities of the soleus H-reflex, were predictive of deterioration of clinical status in these patients.