Outcomes following discectomy for lumbar disc herniation in patients with substantial back pain

J Neurosurg Spine 33:623–626, 2020

Patients with lumbar disc herniation (LDH) typically present with lower-extremity radiculopathy. However, there are patients who have concomitant substantial back pain (BP) and are considered candidates for fusion. The purpose of this study was to determine if patients with LDH and substantial BP improve with discectomy alone.

METHODS The DaneSpine database was used to identify 2399 patients with LDH and baseline BP visual analog scale (VAS) scores ≥ 50 who underwent a lumbar discectomy at one of 3 facilities between June 2010 and December 2017. Standard demographic and surgical variables and patient-reported outcomes, including BP and leg pain (LP) VAS scores (0–100), Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), and European Quality of Life–5 Dimensions Questionnaire (EQ-5D) at baseline and 12 months postoperatively, were collected.

RESULTS A total of 1654 patients (69%) had 12-month data available, with a mean age of 48.7 years; 816 (49%) were male and the mean BMI was 27 kg/m2. At 12 months postoperatively, there were statistically significant improvements (p < 0.0001) in BP (72.6 to 36.9), LP (74.8 to 32.6), ODI (50.9 to 25.1), and EQ-5D (0.25 to 0.65) scores.

CONCLUSIONS Patients with LDH and LP and concomitant substantial BP can be counseled to expect improvement in their BP 12 months after surgery after a discectomy alone, as well as improvement in their LP.