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The efficacy of epiduroscopic neural decompression with Ho:YAG laser ablation in lumbar spinal stenosis.

Although epiduroscopy is one of the popular interventions for the management of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS), only a part of these patients show improvement in pain and functional level. Consequently, the authors thought that holmium:YAG (Ho:YAG) laser can be a reasonable alternative as an adjunct of epiduroscopic procedure, but has not been thoroughly determined yet which influence is resulted by it. This study was conducted to evaluate and compare the efficacy of epiduroscopic neural decompression (END) and END with Ho:YAG laser (ELND) in patients with LSS. Forty-seven patients with LSS were enrolled, all of whom underwent END or ELND and were followed up for 2 years or more. Clinical outcomes were evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS) for back and leg pain and the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ). Procedure-related complications, especially including laser-related complications, were also evaluated. The only laser-related complication that occurred was transient mild motor paralysis in one case (3.1 %). In the END group, clinical score is exhibiting V-shaped upward trend that ended after procedure with the almost similar score obtained with preoperative status. However, in the ELND group, it is exhibiting relatively consistent improvement after procedure. There was a statistically significant improvement in the VAS and RMDQ score after 6 months after ELND procedure compared with END procedure (p = 0.01, 0.03, respectively). ELND could produce significant improvement of low back pain (LBP) at the last follow-up time (p = 0.01), but radiating pain of leg could not be improved significantly (p = 0.09). In conclusion, the current study suggests that performing Ho:YAG laser ablation concurrently with END could produce more decreased intensity of pain and prolonged effect of pain relief compared with END in LSS patients. LSS patients with LBP would be an ideal candidate for ELND, but radiating pain of LSS might not be managed effectively with ELND.

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