Current treatment and decision-making factors leading to fusion vs decompression for one-level degenerative spondylolisthesis: survey results from members of the Lumbar Spine Research Society and Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery



      Degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS) is one of the most common pathologies spine surgeons treat. While a number of potential factors have been identified, there is no current consensus on which variables most impact the decision to fuse vs. decompress alone in this population.


      The purpose of this study was to describe current DS treatment practices and identify both the radiographic and clinical factors leading to the decision to fuse segments for one level DS.


      Descriptive cross-sectional survey.


      Surveys were administered to members of Lumbar Spine Research Society and Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.


      Surgeon demographics and treatment practices were reported. Radiographic and clinical parameters were ranked by each surgeon with regards to their importance.


      The primary analysis was limited to completed surveys. Baseline characteristics were summarized. Clinical and radiographic parameters were ranked and compared. Ranking of each clinical and radiographic parameters was reported using best and worst rank, mean rank position, and percentiles. The most important, top 3 most important, and top 5 most important parameters were ordered given each parameter's ranking frequency.


      381 surveys were returned completed. With regards to fusion vs. decompression, 19.9% fuse all cases, 39.1% fuse > 75%, 17.8% fuse 50%–75%, and 23.2% fuse <25%. The most common decompressive technique was a partial laminotomy (51.4%), followed by full laminectomy (28.9%). 82.2% of respondents instrument all fusion cases. Instability (93.2%), spondylolisthesis grade (59.8%), and laterolisthesis (37.3%) were the most common radiographic factors impacting the decision to fuse. With regards to the clinical factors leading to fusion, mechanical low back pain (83.2%), activity level (58.3%), and neurogenic claudication (42.8%) were the top 3 clinical parameters.


      There is little consensus on the treatment of DS, with society members showing substantial variation in treatment patterns with the majority utilizing fusion for treatment. The most common radiographic parameters impacting treatment are instability, spondylolisthesis grade, and laterolisthesis while mechanical low back pain, activity level, and neurogenic claudication are the most common clinical parameters.


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