Guideline update for the performance of fusion procedures for degenerative disease of the lumbar spine. Part 8: lumbar fusion for disc herniation and radiculopathy

J Neurosurg Spine. 2014 Jul;21(1):48-53. doi: 10.3171/2014.4.SPINE14271.


Patients suffering from a lumbar herniated disc will typically present with signs and symptoms consistent with radiculopathy. They may also have low-back pain, however, and the source of this pain is less certain, as it may be from the degenerative process that led to the herniation. The surgical alternative of choice remains a lumbar discectomy, but fusions have been performed for both primary and recurrent disc herniations. In the original guidelines, the inclusion of a fusion for routine discectomies was not recommended. This recommendation continues to be supported by more recent evidence. Based on low-level evidence, the incorporation of a lumbar fusion may be considered an option when a herniation is associated with evidence of spinal instability, chronic low-back pain, and/or severe degenerative changes, or if the patient participates in heavy manual labor. For recurrent disc herniations, there is low-level evidence to support the inclusion of lumbar fusion for patients with evidence of instability or chronic low-back pain.

Keywords: JOA = Japanese Orthopaedic Association; LHNP = lumbar herniated nucleus pulposus; ODI = Oswestry Disability Index; fusion; herniated disc; lumbar spine; practice guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / pathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Radiculopathy / pathology
  • Radiculopathy / surgery
  • Spinal Fusion / standards*