SUcceSS: SUrgery for Spinal Stenosis

Take part in the world’s first randomised, placebo-controlled study of decompression surgery for central lumbar canal stenosis.

What is the SUcceSS Study about?
Lumbar stenosis occurs when the space around the spinal canal in the lower back becomes narrow, pressing on the spinal nerves. Surgery to treat lumbar stenosis involves a general anaesthetic and a small incision into the skin and muscles of the spine, to remove small portions of bone and ligament that are pressing on the nerves. This type of surgery is called ‘decompression’.

Currently there is no definite evidence that removing bone and ligament is required to improve pain and walking after surgery. While some patients who have this decompression surgery have relief from their symptoms, others do not, and we do not understand why.

To see how important the removal of bone and ligament is, we are performing a study that compares two types of spinal surgery; one that includes bone and ligament removal and another that does not (placebo). The results will allow us to determine if the removal of bone and ligament during surgery (decompression surgery) is effective for the treatment of lumbar stenosis or not.

What is involved?
If you are eligible to join the study, you will have a 50% chance of receiving spinal decompression involving bone and ligament removal (decompression surgery) and a 50% chance of receiving spinal surgery without bone removal (placebo surgery).

After the surgery, we will then contact you to monitor your symptoms every 3 months over 2 years. Most of this contact will be conducted via telephone appointments.

View the study video

SUcceSS has been approved by the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee – HREC/17/POWH/601


You may be eligible to participate in this study if:

  • You are older than 40 years of age
  • You have neurogenic claudication (e.g., pain, numbness, and/or fatigue in or below the buttocks that is worse with walking and better when you sit or lean forward)
  • Your symptoms have been present for at least 3 months
  • Your symptoms have not improved with non-surgical management.
  • You are eligible and medically fit to receive decompression surgery (single or dual level).

How to participate

If you are interested in assisting with this important and exciting area of research, please contact the research team (Professor Manuela Ferreira and Ms Joanna Prior):

Phone: (02) 8627 7228