Does Tobacco Smoking Affect the Postoperative Outcome of MIS Lumbar Decompression Surgery?

Morsi Khashan*, Dror Ofir, Uri Hochberg, Haggai Schermann, Gilad J. Regev, Zvi Lidar, Khalil Salame

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tobacco smoking is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Several authors reported a significant negative impact of smoking on the outcome of spinal surgeries. However, comparative studies on the effect of smoking on the outcome of minimally invasive (MIS) spinal decompression are rare with conflicting results. In this study, we aimed to evaluate clinical outcomes and postoperative complications following MIS decompression in current and former smoking patients compared to those of non-smoking patients. Methods: We used our prospectively collected database to retrospectively analyse the records of 188 consecutive patients treated with MIS lumbar decompression at our institution between November 2013 and July 2017. Patients were divided into groups of smokers (S), previous smokers (PS) and non-smokers (N). The S group and the PS group comprised 31 and 40 patients, respectively. The N group included 117 patients. The outcome measures included perioperative complications, revision surgery and length of stay. Patient-reported outcome measures included a visual analogue scale (VAS) for back pain and leg pain, as well as the Oswestry disability index (ODI) for evaluating functional outcomes. Results: Demographic variables, comorbidity and other preoperative variables were comparable between the three groups. A comparison of perioperative complications and revision surgery rates showed no significant difference between the groups. All groups showed significant improvement in their ODI and VAS scores at 12 and 24 months following surgery. As shown by a multivariate analysis, current smokers had lower chances of improvement, exceeding the minimal clinical important difference (MCID) in ODI and VAS for leg pain at 12 months but not 24 months postoperatively. Conclusions: Our findings show that except for a possible delay in improvement in leg pain and disability, tobacco smoking has no substantial adverse impact on complications and revision rates following MIS spinal decompressions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3292
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2023


  • decompression
  • minimally invasive
  • radiculopathy
  • smoking
  • spine surgery


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