Study design: A retrospective analysis of the outcome of lumbar microdiscectomy, with independent assessment of outcome.
Objectives: To explore whether the initial positive outcome after microdiscectomy is maintained at long-term follow-up.
Summary of background data: Previous reports on long-term outcome after lumbar disc surgery give conflicting messages about whether an initially positive surgical outcome is maintained throughout a 10-year period. This is partly due to differing methods and the failure to include initial outcome, thereby permitting assessment of possible deterioration in the quality of outcome.
Methods: This study presents the initial and long-term outcome after lumbar microdiscectomy, with an independent assessment of outcome. Eighty-eight consecutive patients undergoing lumbar microdiscectomy were identified. Assessment at 10 years after surgery was obtained in 79 (90%) of the cases. The initial outcome was assessed retrospectively by an independent observer at 6 months after surgery using the Macnab classification. The final outcome Macnab classification was completed by postal questionnaire by the patients themselves, who also completed a modified Roland-Morris disability questionnaire.
Results: A successful outcome at 6 months was achieved in 91% of the cases. At 10-year follow-up, this result declined slightly to an 83% success rate. However, there was no statistically significant difference between these outcome results. The long-term Macnab classification results correlated well with disability, as measured by the Roland-Morris score. Patient satisfaction with the results of microdiscectomy 10 years later was high.
Conclusions: Lumbar microdiscectomy achieves a high level of initial success, and this positive outcome is maintained at a 10-year follow-up.