Duration of leg pain as a predictor of outcome after surgery for lumbar disc herniation: a prospective cohort study with 1-year follow up

J Neurosurg. 2000 Apr;92(2 Suppl):131-4. doi: 10.3171/spi.2000.92.2.0131.


Object: The aim of this study was to investigate different variables in the duration of symptoms that can be used to predict outcome after lumbar microdiscectomy.

Methods: In a prospective study of 132 consecutive patients who underwent surgery for lumbar disc herniation, the authors evaluated the prognostic value of different variables in the duration of symptoms for the 1-year period after surgery. The 1-year follow-up investigation was conducted by an independent observer. Assessment of outcome was performed using a clinical overall score (COS), which was recently assessed for its reliability and validity. As for factors predictive of outcome, only duration of leg pain and sick leave reached statistical significance in the multivariate analysis. Results of the univariate analysis demonstrated that in patients experiencing preoperative leg pain fewer than 4 months and between 4 and 8 months, a significantly lower COS at the 1-year follow up was demonstrated compared with those in whom the duration of leg pain was longer (> 8 months). One hundred eight patients returned to work within the 1st year after surgery. Patients who took a sick leave of more than 28 weeks before the operation were at higher risk of not returning to work.

Conclusions: Analysis of these results indicates that leg pain lasting more than 8 months correlates with an unfavorable postoperative outcome in patients with lumbar disc herniation, as well as a high risk of not returning to work.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diskectomy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / diagnosis
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Leg / innervation*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Microsurgery
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Sciatica / diagnosis
  • Sciatica / surgery*
  • Sick Leave
  • Treatment Outcome