A 10-year follow-up of the outcome of lumbar microdiscectomy

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1998 May 15;23(10):1168-71. doi: 10.1097/00007632-199805150-00019.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Diskectomy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Microsurgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome