Clin Orthop Surg.  2019 Mar;11(1):95-102. 10.4055/cios.2019.11.1.95.

Restoration of the Spinous Process Following Muscle-Preserving Posterior Lumbar Decompression via Sagittal Splitting of the Spinous Process

  • 1Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


In lumbar spinal stenosis, spinous process-splitting decompression has demonstrated good clinical outcomes with preservation of the posterior ligamentous complex and paraspinal muscles in comparison to conventional laminectomy, but the radiological consequence and clinical impact of the split spinous processes have not been fully understood.
Seventy-three patients who underwent spinous process-splitting decompression were included. The bone union rate and pattern were evaluated by computed tomography performed 6-18 months after surgery and compared among subgroups divided according to the number of levels decompressed and the extent of spinous process splitting. The bone union pattern was classified into three categories: complete union, partial union, and nonunion. The visual analog scale (VAS) score, Oswestry disability index (ODI), and walking distance assessed both before and 24-36 months after surgery were compared among subgroups divided according to the union pattern of the split spinous process.
Overall, the rates of complete union, partial union, and nonunion were 51.7%, 43.2%, and 5.1%, respectively. In the subgroup with partial splitting of the spinous process, the rates were 85.7%, 14.3%, and 0%, respectively; those of the subgroup with total splitting of the spinous process were 32.9%, 59.2%, and 7.9%, respectively. With single-level decompression, a higher rate of union was observed compared with multilevel decompression. The VAS, ODI, and walking distance were significantly improved after surgery and did not differ according to the degree of union of the split spinous process.
We found that the single-level operation and partial splitting of the spinous process were favourable factors for obtaining complete restoration of the posterior bony structure of the lumbar spine in spinous process-splitting decompression.


Lumbar spinal stenosis; Decompression; Spinous process splitting; Bony union; Clinical outcomes

MeSH Terms

Paraspinal Muscles
Spinal Stenosis
Visual Analog Scale
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