Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: How Is It Classified?

Gregory D. Schroeder, MD; Mark F. Kurd, MD; Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD, PhD, MBA


J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2016;24(12):843-852. 

In This Article

The Need for a Classification

The lack of a universally accepted classification for spinal stenosis has led to substantial heterogeneity in the literature regarding both the diagnosis and management of the condition. Classifications are widely used in orthopaedic surgery primarily to allow accurate communication between surgeons, researchers, and trainees and to guide treatment. Overly simplistic classifications, such as the Denis classification for thoracolumbar trauma, have little clinical utility because they fail to account for important variables that affect surgical decision making. Similarly, overly complex classifications, such as the Magerl classification for thoracolumbar trauma, have poor reliability and thus limited clinical applicability.