Diagnosis of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis with Functional Myelography
02 January 2017
08 September 2017
18 January 2018 (online)
Background and Study Aims The diagnosis of a lumbar spinal stenosis demands advanced diagnostic radiologic techniques. In recent decades magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has replaced myelography, now considered an old-fashioned technique. It was our hypothesis that functional myelography still plays an important role in selected cases. We investigated how our surgical strategy was influenced by the results of MRI, functional myelography, and postmyelography computed tomography (CT) in patients with a lumbar spinal stenosis.
Methods The sagittal diameters of the lumbar spinal canal were measured from L1 to S1 on patients with lumbar spinal stenosis. MRI, functional myelography, and postmyelography CT were compared in each of the patients. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated in each method. We examined how the surgical strategy was influenced by the results of these different methods.
Results Fifty consecutive patients (21 women and 29 men; mean age: 70 years, [range: 49–86 years]) fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Functional myelography revealed a sensitivity of 0.99, a specificity of 0.79, and a positive predictive value of 0.45. The MRI exhibited a sensitivity of 0.93, a specificity of 0.74, and a positive predictive value of 0.39. Postmyelography CT showed a sensitivity of 0.96, a specificity of 0.75, and a positive predictive value of 0.41. A functional myelography revealed more information than the MRI and resulted in a change in the surgical strategy in 11 of 50 patients (22%) in comparison with the sole results of MRI or a postmyelography CT.
Conclusions In selected cases with multilevel lumbar spinal stenosis, functional myelography revealed the highest precision in reaching a correct diagnosis. It resulted in a change in the surgical approach in every fifth patient in comparison with the MRI and proved most helpful, especially in elderly patients.
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