Assessment of bladder function after lumbar decompressive laminectomy for spinal stenosis: A prospective study

H. G. Deen, R. S. Zimmerman, S. K. Swanson, T. R. Larson

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36 Scopus citations


Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common problem in elderly patients. In its more advanced forms, it typically causes intractable leg pain, but many patients also manifest varying degrees of bladder dysfunction. The goal of lumbar decompressive laminectomy is relief of leg pain and paresthesias, yet some patients also achieve improvement in bladder function. This study prospectively investigated patients with lumbar spinal stenosis to determine whether laminectomy had any effect on urological function. Of the 20 patients in the study, 10 were men and 10 women (average age 70.9 years). All patients had severe lumbar stenosis affecting between two and four spinal segments, and all reported some degree of bladder dysfunction. Cystoscopy and urodynamic testing were completed preoperatively. A standard decompressive laminectomy was performed over the appropriate number of spinal segments. Urodynamic studies were repeated at 2 and 6 months postoperatively. At the 6- month follow-up review, bladder function was subjectively improved in 12 patients (60%) and unchanged in eight (40%). Postvoiding residual urine volume was the urodynamic factor most likely to be improved by laminectomy. In nine patients (45%), baseline postvoiding residual urine volume was elevated and all nine had improvement postoperatively. In the remaining 11 patients (55%), this urine volume was normal before and after surgery. Maximum urine flow rates also improved, but the results of cytometrography and electromyography, urine flow pattern, and bladder capacity were unchanged postoperatively. Cystoscopy detected previously undiagnosed malignancy of the lower urinary tract in two patients (10%). It is concluded that lumbar decompressive laminectomy can have a beneficial effect on bladder function in a significant number of patients with advanced lumbar spinal stenosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)971-974
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1994


  • cauda equina syndrome
  • lumbar spinal stenosis
  • neurogenic bladder
  • urodynamic testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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