Comparative effectiveness of microdecompression alone vs decompression plus instrumented fusion in lumbar degenerative spondylolisthesis
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJAMA Network Open. 2020;3(9):e2015015 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.15015
Importance Conflicting evidence and large practice variation are present in the surgical treatment of degenerative spondylolisthesis. More than 90% of surgical procedures in the United States include instrumented fusion compared with 50% or less in other countries. Objective To evaluate whether the effectiveness of microdecompression alone is noninferior to decompression with instrumented fusion in a real-world setting. Design, Setting, and Participants This multicenter comparative effectiveness study with a noninferiority design assessed prospective data from the Norwegian Registry for Spine Surgery. From September 19, 2007, to December 21, 2015, 1376 patients at 35 Norwegian orthopedic and neurosurgical departments underwent surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis with degenerative spondylolisthesis without scoliosis. After excluding patients undergoing laminectomy alone, fusion without instrumentation, or surgery in more than 2 levels and those with a former operation at the index level, 794 patients were included in the analyses, regardless of missing or incomplete follow-up data, before propensity score matching. Data were analyzed from March 20 to October 30, 2018. Exposures Microdecompression alone or decompression with instrumented fusion. Main Outcomes and Measures A reduction from baseline of 30% or greater in the Oswestry Disability Index at 12-month follow-up. Results After propensity score matching, 570 patients (413 female [72%]; mean [SD] age, 64.7 [9.5] years) were included for comparison, with 285 undergoing microdecompression (mean [SD] age, 64.6 [9.8] years; 205 female [72%]) and 285 undergoing decompression with instrumented fusion (mean [SD] age, 64.8 [9.2] years; 208 female [73%]). The proportion of each type of procedure varied between departments. However, changes in outcome scores varied within patients but not between departments. The proportion of patients with improvement in the Oswestry Disability Index of at least 30% was 150 of 219 (68%) in the microdecompression group and 155 of 215 (72%) in the instrumentation group. The 95% CI (–12% to 5%) for the difference of −4% was above the predefined margin of noninferiority (–15%). Microdecompression alone was associated with shorter operation time (mean [SD], 89  vs 180  minutes; P < .001) and shorter hospital stay (mean [SD], 2.5 [2.4] vs 6.4 [3.0] days; P < .001). Conclusions and Relevance Among patients with degenerative spondylolisthesis, the clinical effectiveness of microdecompression alone was noninferior to that of decompression with instrumented fusion. Microdecompression alone was also associated with shorter durations of surgery and hospital stay, supporting the suggestion that the less invasive procedure should be considered for most patients.