Lumbar stenosis is a well-defined pathologic condition with excellent surgical outcomes. Empiric evidence as well as randomized, prospective trials has demonstrated the superior efficacy of surgery compared to medical management for lumbar stenosis. Traditionally, lumbar stenosis is decompressed with open laminectomies. This involves removal of the spinous process, lamina, and the posterior musculoligamentous complex (posterior tension band). This approach provides excellent improvement in symptoms, but is also associated with potential postoperative spinal instability. This may result in subsequent need for spinal fusion. Advances in technology have enabled the application of minimally invasive spine surgery (MISS) as an acceptable alternative to open lumbar decompression. Recent studies have shown similar to improved perioperative outcomes when comparing MISS to open decompression for lumbar stenosis. A literature review of MISS for decompression of lumbar stenosis with tubular retractors was performed to evaluate the outcomes of this modern surgical technique. In addition, a discussion of the advantages and limitations of this technique is provided.
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