Diagnostic tests in the clinical diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis: Consensus and Results of an International Delphi Study

Christy Tomkins-Lane, Markus Melloh, Arnold Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Reach a consensus on which diagnostic tests are most important in confirming the clinical diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). Methods: Phase 1: 22 members of the International Taskforce on the Diagnosis and Management of LSS confirmed 35 diagnostic items. An on-line survey was developed that allows experts to express the logical order in which they consider the diagnostic tests, and the level of certainty ascertained from each test. Phase 2, Round 1: Survey distributed to members of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. Round 2: Meeting of 15 members of Taskforce defined final list of 10 items. Round 3: Survey was distributed internationally, followed by Taskforce consensus. Results: Totally, 432 clinicians from 28 different countries participated. Certainty of the diagnosis was 60% after selecting the first test and significant change in certainty ceasing after eight items at 90.8% certainty (p < 0.05). The most frequently selected tests included MRI/CT scan, neurological examination and walking test with gait observation. The diagnostic test selected most frequently as the first test was neurological examination. Conclusions: This is the first study to reach an international consensus on which diagnostic tests should be used in the clinical diagnosis of LSS. The final recommendation includes three core diagnostic items: neurological examination, MRI/CT and walking test with gait observation. The Taskforce also recommends 3 ‘rule out’ tests: foot pulses/ABI, hip examination and test for cervical myelopathy. If applied, this core set of diagnostic tests can standardize outcomes and improve clinical care of LSS globally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2188-2197
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2020


  • Consensus
  • Diagnosis
  • Lumbar stenosis
  • MRI
  • Neurologic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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