Favorable long‐term outcome in young adults undergoing surgery for lumbar disc herniation

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:3155–3164

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the long-term outcome after surgery for lumbar disc herniation in a young adult population.

Methods A total of 526 consecutive patients between 18 and 40 years of age who underwent surgery for lumbar disc between 1990 and 2005 were included in the study. The primary outcomes were the need for new lumbar spine surgery during the follow-up and secondary outcomes were short-term subjective outcome, the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, and the ability to carry out employment at the end of the long-term follow-up.

Results A total of 96% of the patients had a reduction in their symptoms at the clinical follow-up (median of 50 days post- surgery). Twenty-one patients (4.0%) had a reoperation within 28 days. Excluding these early reoperations, 136 patients (26%) had additional lumbar spine surgery and 18 patients (3.4%) underwent lumbar fusion during the follow-up of median 18 years. The annual risk for new surgery was 1.4%. In total, 316 patients (60%) returned the ODI questionnaire, and their mean score was 8.1. Patients with a higher number of additional lumbar spine surgeries (p < 0.001) reported deteriorating ODI scores.

Conclusion Patients showed excellent short-term recovery from their symptoms. In the long term, the mean ODI score for the patients was comparable to the normative population. However, a notable proportion of the patients required additional lumbar surgery during the follow-up period, and a higher number of lumbar surgeries was associated with poor ODI scores.