Purpose: To follow the clinical outcome after surgery for cervical radiculopathy caused by degenerative cervical disc disease and to compare it with the outcome after conservative treatment.
Method: Forty-three patients all awaiting surgery were studied prospectively. A control group of 39 conservatively treated patients were chosen, matched for gender and age. All patients rated their Sickness Impact Profile (SIP) and pain (VAS) and were clinically examined by unbiased observers initially and after 3, 9 and 24 months.
Results: Long-lasting pain reduction was noted both in the neck and in the arm for the operated patients, as well as improved sensory function and reduction of reflex disturbances. Their SIP showed a temporary improvement in the overall index, in the psychosocial dimension, in sleep/rest and home management, but only mobility remained improved. Among the operated patients referred directly to us, there was an improvement in SIP at the final follow-up. The control group's SIP indicated only a temporary improvement in sleep/rest.
Conclusions: Surgically treated patients experienced pain reduction which was partially maintained for at least 24 months. A sustained improvement in the health status measured by SIP was observed only among operated patients that were not referred via the social insurance offices.