Objective: It remains unclear whether fusion for lumbar degenerative disc disease with positive discography produces better outcomes compared with nonoperative treatment. The aim of this study was to compare outcomes of patients with discography-concordant lumbar degenerative disc disease electing for fusion versus nonoperative treatment.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed consecutive patients with back pain and concordant lumbar discogram who were offered fusion. Follow-up questionnaires included pain score, Oswestry disability index, short form-12, and satisfaction scale. Patients were stratified based on whether they elected for fusion or nonoperative treatment.
Results: Overall follow-up was 48% (96/200). Patients lacking follow-up were slightly older (P = 0.021) and less likely to be smokers (P = 0.013). Between patients with and without follow-up, there were no significant differences in pain score at initial visit, body mass index, or gender (P ≥ 0.40). The 96 patients for whom follow-up was obtained included 53 in the operative and 43 in the nonoperative groups. At baseline, there were no significant differences between these groups based on age, pain score, body mass index, smoking, or gender (P ≥ 0.25). Mean follow-up was 63 months for operative and 58 months for nonoperative patients (P = 0.20). The mean pain score at last follow-up improved significantly for operative and nonoperative patients (P < 0.001). At follow-up, operative and nonoperative groups did not differ significantly with regard to pain scores, Oswestry disability index, short form-12, or satisfaction scale.
Conclusions: Comparison of long-term outcomes for patients with back pain and concordant discography did not demonstrate a significant difference in outcome measures of pain, health status, satisfaction, or disability based on whether the patient elected for fusion or nonoperative treatment.
Keywords: Degenerative disc disease; Discogram; Discography; Fusion; Lumbar; Outcomes; Spine; Surgery.
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