Article Abstract

Do intra-operative neurophysiological changes predict functional outcome following decompressive surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis? A prospective study

Authors: Krzysztof Piasecki, Gerit Kulik, Katarzyna Pierzchala, Etienne Pralong, Prashant J. Rao, Constantin Schizas


Background: To analyse the relation between immediate intraoperative neurophysiological changes during decompression and clinical outcome in a series of patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) undergoing surgery.
Methods: Twenty-four patients with neurogenic intermittent claudication (NIC) due to LSS undergoing decompressive surgery were prospectively studied. Intra operative trans-cranial motor evoked potentials (tcMEPs) were recorded before and immediately after surgical decompression. Lower limb normalised tcMEP improvement was used as primary neurophysiological outcome. Clinical outcome was assessed using the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire (ZCQ) self-assessment score, before surgery (baseline) and at an average of 8 and 29 months post-operatively.
Results: We found a moderate positive correlation between tcMEP changes and ZCQ at early follow-up (R=0.36). At late follow-up no correlation was found between intra-operative tcMEP and ZCQ changes. Dichotomizing the data showed a statistically significant relationship between tcMEP improvement and better functional outcome at early follow-up (P=0.013) but not at later follow-up (P=1).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that intra-operative neurophysiological improvement during decompressive surgery may predict a better clinical outcome at early follow-up although this is not applicable to late follow-up possibly due to the observed erosion of functional improvement with time.