JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Surgery for adult spondylolisthesis: a systematic review of the evidence

Tobias L Schulte, Florian Ringel, Markus Quante, Sven O Eicker, Cathleen Muche-Borowski, Ralph Kothe
European Spine Journal 2016, 25 (8): 2359-67
26363561
Surgery for isthmic and degenerative spondylolisthesis (SL) in adults is carried out very frequently in everyday practice. However, it is still unclear whether the results of surgery are better than those of conservative treatment and whether decompression alone or instrumented fusion with decompression should be recommended. In addition, the role of reduction is unclear. Four clinically relevant key questions were addressed in this study: (1) Is surgery more successful than conservative treatment in relation to pain and function in adult patients with isthmic SL? (2) Is surgery more successful than conservative treatment in relation to pain and function in adult patients with degenerative SL? (3) Is instrumented fusion with decompression more successful in relation to pain and function than decompression alone in adult patients with degenerative SL and spinal canal stenosis? (4) Is instrumented fusion with reduction more successful in relation to pain and function than instrumented fusion without reduction in adult patients with isthmic or degenerative SL? A systematic PubMed search was carried out to identify randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials on these topics. Papers were analyzed systematically in a search for the best evidence. A total of 18 studies was identified and analyzed: two for question 1, eight for question 2, four for question 3, and four for question 4. Surgery appears to be better than conservative treatment in adults with isthmic SL (poor evidence) and also in adults with degenerative SL (good evidence). Instrumented fusion with decompression appears to be more successful than decompression alone in adults with degenerative SL and spinal stenosis (poor evidence). Reduction and instrumented fusion does not appear to be more successful than instrumented fusion without reduction in adults with isthmic or degenerative SL (moderate evidence).

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