6 things to know about quality of life after spinal discectomy


A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine examines the quality of life for spinal discectomy patients.

The study authors conducted a retrospective review of all patients who underwent a primary or revision discectomy at Cleveland Clinic Center for Spine Health from January 2008 to December 2011. The patients were measured for QOL measures as well as other outcomes-based measures and quality-adjusted life years.


There were 196 patients who were examined in the study; 116 who underwent primary procedures and 80 who underwent revision discectomy. The patients had average follow-up of 150 days. There weren’t preoperative differences between the two groups. Here are six key findings from the study:


1. Both groups improved significantly in all QOL measures after surgery.


2. Patients who underwent primary discectomy improved 0.25 points for QALY. Patients in the revision surgery group improved 0.18 points.


3. Significantly more patients in the primary surgery group reported QALY improvement than in the revision cohort. Around 76 percent of the primary group reported QALY improvement, compared with the 59 percent in the revision group.


4. The QALY improvement exceeded minimum clinically important difference for 62 percent of patients in the primary cohort, compared with 45 percent in the revision cohort.


5. Among the revision discectomy patients, around 17.5 percent of the patients reported a third herniation, and 28 percent of those patients chose to undergo a second revision discectomy. Another 10 percent underwent conservative management.


6. For the patients who underwent a second revision surgery, QOL worsened.


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