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The factors of deterioration in long-term clinical course of lumbar spinal canal stenosis after successful conservative treatment

BACKGROUND: The treatment of lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSS) depends on symptom severity. In the absence of severe symptoms such as severe motor disturbances or bowel and/or urinary dysfunction, conservative treatment is generally the first choice for the treatment of LSS. However, we experienced cases of worsening symptoms even after successful conservative treatment. The purpose of this study is to investigate the long-term clinical course of LSS following successful conservative treatment and analyze the prognostic factors associated with symptom deterioration. METHODS: The study included 60 LSS patients (34 females and 26 males) whose symptoms were relieved by conservative treatment between April 2007 and March 2010 and who were followed up for 5 years or longer. The mean age at admission was 64.8 +/- 8.5 years (range, 40-85 years old), and the mean follow-up period was 7.3 years (range, 5.8-9.5 years). We defined ‘deterioration’ of symptoms as the shortening of intermittent claudication more than 50 m compared with those at discharge or the occurrence or progression of lower limb paralysis, and ‘poor outcome’ as the deterioration within 5 years after discharge. The long-term outcome of conservative treatment for LSS was analyzed by Kaplan-Meier analysis. Furthermore, logistic regression analysis was performed to reveal the risk factors of poor outcome for clinical classification, severe intermittent claudication (= 100 m), lower limb muscle weakness, vertebral body slip (>/= 3 mm), scoliosis (Cobb angle >/= 10 degrees ), block on myelography, and redundant nerve roots of the cauda equina. RESULTS: Thirty-four (56.7%) patients preserved their condition at discharge during the follow-up, whereas 26 patients (43.3%) showed deterioration. Sixteen patients had a decreased intermittent claudication distance, and 10 patients had newly developed or progressive paralysis. The probability of preservation was maintained at 68.3% at 5 years after discharge. Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that only severe intermittent claudication (= 100 m) was a significant risk factor of a poor outcome (p = 0.005, odds ratio = 6.665). CONCLUSIONS: The patients with severe intermittent claudication should be carefully followed up because those are the significant deterioration candidates despite the success in conservative treatment

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