The ABC's of Spinal Decompression: Pearls and Technical Notes

Wyatt L. Ramey, Juan Altafulla, Emre Yilmaz, Basem Ishak, Andrew Jack, Zachary N. Litvack, Rod J. Oskouian, R. Shane Tubbs, Jens R. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The foundation of spine surgery centers on the proper identification, decompression, and stabilization of bony and neural elements. We describe easily reproducible and reliable methods for optimal decompression and release of neural structures to alleviate symptoms and improve patients' quality of life. Methods: Multiple spinal decompression techniques were described in procedures for which the goal of surgery was decompression alone or decompression and fusion. Eight fundamental techniques were described: inverted U-cut, J-cut, T-cut, L-cut, Z-cut, I-track cuts, C-cut, and O-cut. Results: These foundational cuts may be combined, as needed, to develop an individually tailored approach to the patient's pathology. Conclusions: After properly identifying the anatomic structures, each of these techniques provides a consistent, reproducible, and efficient means to decompress the spine under various circumstances. These techniques provide surgical trainees with a framework for approaching surgical decompression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e146-e151
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Bone cuts
  • Spinal decompression
  • Spine
  • Surgical technique

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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