5 key notes on return-to-work rates after lumbar discectomy


A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine examines lumbar discectomy and postoperative return-to-work.

The researchers examined data from an observational prosective cohort study at 13 academic and community sites through the NeuroPoint—Spinal Disorders registry. There were 127 patients included in the study who were followed for three months. The patients were 46 years old on average. The researchers found:


1. More than half — 66.9 percent — were working three months postoperatively.


2. The younger patients were more likely to return than patients 50 years or older, and 55.3 percent of male patients returned within three months, compared with 28.6 percent of female patients.


3. The patients with a higher preoperative SF-36 physical function score and those with lower preoperative Oswestry Disability Index scores were more likely to return to work. Those with 44 on the SF-36 were more likely than those with a 30.3, and those with 43.8 ODI scores were more likely to return than those with a 52.6.


4. Non-smokers had a higher return to work rate—83.5 percent, compared with 66.7 percent of smokers. Those who were working preoperatively were also more likely to return—91.8 percent reported returning to work, compared with 26.2 percent of those patients who weren’t working preoperatively.


5. The study authors found the only statistically significant predictor of return to work was age.

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