Why collecting baseline scores prospectively is so important for spine surgery: 5 key notes


A new study published in Spine examines the patient recollection of preoperative symptoms after lumbar spine surgery to identify recall bias.

The study authors examined 62 patients who underwent lumbar decompression with or without fusion. The researchers found:


1. Patients reported significant improvement in back pain, leg pain and disability.


2. The patients recalled preoperative status significantly more severe than the actual scores for back pain, leg pain and disability.


3. There wasn't a correlation between the actual and recalled scores for the back or leg pain. There was a moderate correlation with the disability scores.


4. The results were similar between patients of all ages and both male and female patients. The time between the surgery and recollection did not make a difference.


5. Nearly half — 40 percent — of the patients switched the predominant symptom from back to leg pain or leg to back pain on the recall.


"Relying on patient recollection does not provide an accurate measurement of preoperative status after lumbar spine surgery," concluded the study authors. "Recall bias indicates the importance of obtaining true baseline scores and patient-reported outcomes prospectively and not retrospectively."


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