Predictors of bad and good outcome of lumbar spine surgery. A prospective clinical study with 2 years' follow up

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1996 May 1;21(9):1056-64; discussion 1064-5. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199605010-00013.


Study design: Based on prospective assessment, patients with lumbar disc surgery were examined to determine reliable predictors for clinical outcome.

Objectives: The prognostic value of a screening checklist developed in a previous study was evaluated in a 2-year follow-up.

Summary of background data: Outcome studies of lumbar disc surgery document a success rate between 49-90%. It has been shown that a number of medical history data and sociodemographic and psychodiagnostic findings are of prognostic value for the outcome of lumbar spine surgery.

Methods: In addition to clinical and neuroradiologic examinations, 164 patients took part in a standardized interview. Eighty-two percent participated in a follow-up performed 2 years after the operation. Preoperative findings, outcome, and prediction of three diagnostic subgroups were compared. Eighty-three (51%) patients had disc herniation only, 29 (18%) had disc herniation and other relevant back diagnoses, and 51 (31%) had no disc herniation but had other relevant back diagnoses.

Results: In patients with disc herniation only, good results were observed in 53%, moderate in 19%, and bad in 28%. The accuracy of prediction of the postoperative result was 75% for the patients with good outcome and 86% for those with bad outcome. In the group of patients with diagnoses other than disc herniation, the success rate of the operation was 38% good, 28% moderate, and 41% bad, but the predictor score was not as useful as for the other groups.

Conclusion: Patients with a high risk of a bad operation outcome after lumbar discectomy could be identified preoperatively. It is suggested that those patients take part in a pain management approach instead of or in addition to surgical intervention.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Diskectomy* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / etiology
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Preoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reoperation
  • Spinal Diseases / surgery
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome