Article Abstract

Long-term results with percutaneous interspinous process devices in the treatment of neurogenic intermittent claudication

Authors: Patrick Fransen


Background: Neurogenic intermittent claudication (NIC) is the main symptom of degenerative lumbar spinal stenosis. Percutaneous interspinous process decompression devices (IPDs) have been designed as an alternative therapy to conservative treatment and to open decompressive surgery for patients suffering from NIC. Initial short-term results were encouraging. We present the long-term results of a group of patients that we followed to provide insight on long-term outcomes and effectiveness of this technique compared to other decompression methods.
Methods: Fifteen patients operated for NIC by implantation of percutaneous IPDs have been prospectively monitored for reoperations or complications. Follow-up (FU) was interrupted if the patient was reoperated. Results were considered poor if the patient had to be reoperated at any stage of the FU or if the treatment failed to alleviate the pain after 6 months. Results were considered average if the patient still suffered some pain but did not require reoperation.
Results: The patients were followed up to 7 years after the initial surgery. The mean length of the FU was 3.53 years and all patients could be followed. At the end of the FU, the results were good in only 20.0% (3/15), average in 13.3% (2/15) and poor in 66.7% (10/15).
Conclusions: Despite initial satisfactory results, long-term FU is disappointing, with 80% poor or average results. The long-term reoperation rate is high (66.6%), increases over time and is higher than after implantation of IPDs for decompression augmentation. Although this technique is simple and safe, its effectiveness seems short-lived. We recommend cautious use and informing patients about the risk of relatively early failure and recurrence.