Outcomes in surgical treatment for tandem spinal stenosis: systematic literature review



      Tandem spinal stenosis (TSS) refers to a narrowing of the spinal canal in distinct, noncontiguous regions. TSS most commonly occurs in the cervical and lumbar regions. Decompressive surgery is indicated for those with cervical myelopathy or persistent symptoms from lumbar stenosis despite conservative management. Surgical management typically involves staged procedures, with cervical decompression taking precedence in most cases, followed by lumbar decompression at a later time. However, several studies have shown favorable outcomes in simultaneous decompression.


      The aim of this study is to provide a literature review and compare surgical outcomes in patients undergoing staged vs simultaneous surgery for TSS.


      Systematic literature review.


      A systematic review using PRISMA guidelines to identify original research articles for tandem spinal stenosis. PubMed, Cochrane, Ovid, Scopus, and Web of Science were used for electronic literature search. Original articles from 2005 to 2021 with more than eight adult patients treated surgically for cervical and lumbar TSS in staged or simultaneous procedures were included. Articles including pediatric patients, primarily thoracic stenosis, stenosis secondary to neoplasm or infectious disease, minimally invasive surgery, and non-English language were excluded. Demographic, perioperative, complications, functional outcome, and neurologic outcome data including mJOA (modified Japanese Orthopaedic Association), Nurick grade (NG), and ODI (Oswestry disability index), were extracted and summarized.


      A total of 667 articles were initially identified. After preliminary screening, 21 articles underwent full-text screening. Ten articles met our inclusion criteria. A total of 831 patients were included, 571 (68%) of them underwent staged procedures, and 260 (32%) underwent simultaneous procedures for TSS. Mean follow-ups ranged from 12 to 85 months. There was no difference in estimated blood loss (EBL) between staged and simultaneous groups (p=.639). Simultaneous surgeries had shorter surgical time than staged surgeries (p<.001). Mean changes in mJOA, NG, and ODI was comparable between staged and simultaneous groups. Complications were similar between the groups. There were more major complications reported in simultaneous operations, although this was not statistically significant (p=.301).


      Staged and simultaneous surgery for TSS have comparable perioperative, functional, and neurologic outcomes, as well as complication rates. Careful selection of candidates for simultaneous surgery may reduce the length of stay and consolidate rehabilitation, thereby reducing hospital-associated costs.

      Key words

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