[Diagnosis and treatment of lumbar spinal canal stenosis]

Author(s): Miyamoto M, Genbum Y, Ito H


Lumbar spinal canal stenosis (LSCS) was first described in 1954 by Verbiest, followed by the currently accepted international classification of LSCS in 1976 by Arnoldi. Briefly, LSCS is a nervous system syndrome that is characterized by neural symptoms in the lower extremities due to tightened cauda equina and spinal nerve root involvement. LSCS international classification consists of: (1) degenerative, (2) congenital developmental, (3) combined, (4) spondylolytic spondylolisthesis, (5) iatrogenic and (6) post traumatic stenosis. Degenerative stenosis-the most common type of LSCS-is caused by disc degeneration, osteoarthritis of the facet joint and hypertrophy of the ligamentum flavum. LSCS may also be the result of intervertebral disc degeneration, protruded intervertebral disc and/or bony spur compress cauda equina and spinal nerve root anteriorally, while degenerated facet joint and hypertrophied the ligamentum flavum compress cauda equina and spinal nerve root posteriorally? Most often, spondylolytic spondylolisthesis occurs at the fourth lumbar vertebrae in middle-aged women. As a result of a slipping forward of the vertebra, cauda equina and spinal nerve roots can be tightened between the edge behind the top of lower vertebra and frontal edge of the lower part of upper lamina. Typical clinical symptoms of LSCS are low back pain, leg pain and intermittent claudication. Low back pain is chronic with secondary radiating pain in the buttock. The leg pain is called "sciatica", which tends to appear on the back of thigh, in the lateral aspect of lower leg and calf muscles, and which intensifies when the patient is fatigued. Intermittent claudication is a symptom associated with this syndrome. Often, patients with LSCS find it impossible to walk because of increased numbness and pain in their leg. Many patients report that after squatting for a few minutes they are able to resume walking. LSCS patients may also report dysaesthesia in the perineum area, and may also report urinary dysfunction ranging from extreme urgency to urinary delay. Patients who present with symptoms of LSCS should be seen by an orthopedic surgeon. Correct diagnosis by imaging and clinical examination, with appropriate conservative or operative treatment in a timely fashion should be encouraged in order to prevent irreversible nerve damage.

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