Effect of Lumbar Discectomy or Lumbar Decompression on Axial Back Pain: Results of a Meta-Analysis

World Neurosurg. (2023) 177:109-121

This meta-analysis evaluated the impact of lumbar disk herniation and lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) on axial back pain and the extent of improvement of axial and radicular pain following lumbar decompression and discectomy surgery in patients with low back pain (LBP).

METHODS: A systematic search for published literature between January 2012 and January 2023 was made on PubMed, Google Scholar, and Cochrane library database on 31 st January 2023.

Original articles that included patients with lumbar disc herniation or LSS who underwent lumbar discectomy or lumbar decompression respectively were included in the study.

RESULTS: A total of 71 studies including 16,770 patients with LBP undergoing lumbar discectomy or decompression surgery were included in the metaanalysis. The pooled standard mean difference between postoperative and preoperative: Visual Analog Scale scores for leg pain was L5.14 with 95% confidence interval (CI): L6.59 to L3.69 (P-value [ 0) and for back pain was L2.90 with 95% CI: L3.79 to L2.01 (P value [ 0), Numerical pain Rating Scale for leg pain was L1.64 with 95% CI: L1.97 to L1.30 (P-value<0.01) and for back pain was L1.58 with 95% CI: L1.84 to L1.32 (P-value <0.01), Oswerty Disability Index score was L4.76 with 95% CI: L6.22 to L3.29 (P-value [ 0) and the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score was 3.45 with 95% CI: 0.02 to 6.88 (P value 0) at follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis provides evidence that lumbar discectomy and decompression are effective in improving axial LBP in patients with lumbar disk herniation and LSS.

 

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.

Patient preferences for treatment of lumbar disc herniation: a discrete choice experiment

J Neurosurg Spine 36:704–712, 2022

Lumbar discectomy is a frequently performed procedure to treat sciatica caused by lumbar disc herniation. Multiple surgical techniques are available, and the popularity of minimally invasive surgical techniques is increasing worldwide. Clinical outcomes between these techniques may not show any substantial differences. As lumbar discectomy is an elective procedure, patients’ own preferences play an important role in determining the procedure they will undergo. The aims of the current study were to determine the relative preference weights patients apply to various attributes of lumbar discectomy, determine if patient preferences change after surgery, identify preference heterogeneity for choosing surgery for sciatica, and calculate patient willingness to pay for other attributes.

METHODS A discrete choice experiment (DCE) was conducted among patients with sciatica caused by lumbar disc herniation. A questionnaire was administered to patients before they underwent surgery and to an independent sample of patients who had already undergone surgery. The DCE required patients to choose between two surgical techniques or to opt out from 12 choice sets with alternating characteristic levels: waiting time for surgery, out-of-pocket costs, size of the scar, need of general anesthesia, need for hospitalization, effect on leg pain, and duration of the recovery period.

RESULTS A total of 287 patients were included in the DCE analysis. All attributes, except scar size, had a significant influence on the overall preferences of patients. The effect on leg pain was the most important characteristic in the decision for a surgical procedure (by 44.8%). The potential out-of-pocket costs for the procedure (28.8%), the wait time (12.8%), need for general anesthesia (7.5%), need for hospitalization (4.3%), and the recovery period (1.8%) followed. Preferences were independent of the scores on patient-reported outcome measures and baseline characteristics. Three latent classes could be identified with specific preference patterns. Willingness-to-pay was the highest for effectiveness on leg pain, with patients willing to pay €3133 for a treatment that has a 90% effectiveness instead of 70%.

CONCLUSIONS Effect on leg pain is the most important factor for patients in deciding to undergo surgery for sciatica. Not all proposed advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery (e.g., size of the scar, no need of general anesthesia) are necessarily perceived as advantages by patients. Spine surgeons should propose surgical techniques for sciatica, not only based on own ability and proposed eligibility, but also based on patient preferences as is part of shared decision making.

 

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.

 

Percutaneous Transforaminal Endoscopic Discectomy Versus Microendoscopic Discectomy for Lumbar Disc Herniation

SPINE Volume 45, Number 8, pp 493–503

Study Design. A prospective randomized controlled study.

Objective. To clarify whether percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy (PTED) has better clinical outcomes and less surgical trauma compared with microendoscopic discectomy (MED).

Summary of Background Data. Two kinds of minimally invasive spine surgeries, PTED and MED, are now widely used for the treatment of lumbar disc herniation (LDH). It is still a controversial issue to choose the proper surgical approach.

Methods. In this single-center, open-label, randomized controlled trial, patients were included if they had persistent signs and symptoms of radiculopathy with corresponding imagingconfirmed LDH, and were randomly allocated to PTED or MED group. The primary outcome was the score of Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) and the secondary outcomes included the score of Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey bodily pain and physical function scales, European Quality of Life-5 Dimensions, and Visual Analogue Scales for back pain and leg pain.

Results. A total of 250 participants were randomly assigned to two treatment groups, 241 of that received the specific surgical procedure. Two hundred twenty-two patients (92.1%) have completed the 2-year follow-up. Both the primary and secondary outcomes did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups at each prespecified follow-up time (P>0.05). For PTED, the postoperative improvement of ODI score in the median herniation subgroup was less compared with paramedian subgroup. For MED, less improvement of ODI score was found in far-lateral herniation subgroup compared with paramedian subgroup. Total complication rate over the course of 2 year was 13.44% in PTED group and 15.57% in MED group (P¼0.639). Ten cases (8.40%) in PTED group and five cases (4.10%) in MED group suffered from residue/recurrence of herniation, for which reoperation was required.

Conclusion. Over the 2-year follow-up period, PTED did not show superior clinical outcomes and did not appear to be safer procedure for patients with LDH compared with MED. PTED had inferior results for median disc herniation, whereas MED did not appear to be the best option for far-lateral disc herniation.

Level of Evidence: 2

Lumbar disk herniation during pregnancy: a review on general management and timing of surgery

Acta Neurochir (2018) 160:1361–1370

Objective Provide an overview of existing management strategies to suggest a guideline for surgical management of lumbar disk herniation in pregnant women based on time of presentation.

Methods We performed a narrative review on the topic using the PubMed database. A total of 63 relevant articles published after 1992 were identified, of which 17 fulfilled selection criteria.

Results A total of 22 published cases of spine surgery for disk herniation during pregnancy were found in 17 studies on the topic. Prone positioning was reported in the majority of cases during the first and early second trimester. C-sections were performed prior to spine surgery in the prone position for the majority of patients operated during the third trimester. The left lateral position with continued pregnancy was preferred during the latter half of the second trimester when delivery of the fetus cannot yet be performed but surgery is indicated.

Conclusion Spine surgery during pregnancy is a rare scenario but can be performed safely when needed if providers adhere to general guidelines. Surgical approaches and overall management are influenced by the stage of pregnancy.

Is Eighty the New Sixty? Outcomes and Complications after Lumbar Decompression Surgery in Elderly Patients over 80 Years of Age

World Neurosurg. (2018) 112:e555-e560.

An increasing demographic aging of the general population results in a rising incidence of octogenarians and nonagenarians with spine disease. Patients older than 65 years represent the majority of patients with degenerative lumbar spine disease in our daily clinical routine. Surgical treatment is undertaken reluctantly because of an increased rate of comorbidities. We therefore assessed complication rates of lumbar decompression in regard to neurological outcome and medical conditions in patients age 80 years or older in a retrospective singlecenter series.

METHODS: Data for 244 patients (124 female, 120 male; mean age, 83.1  3 years; age range, 80e95 years) who underwent decompressive surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis or disc herniation between April 2007 and February 2016 were assessed retrospectively. Age at surgery, neurologic deficits (preoperative and postoperative), relevant medical comorbidities and previous lumbar decompression, intraoperative and postoperative complications (e.g., surgery-related, medical), duration of surgery, length of hospital stay, and rate of revision surgeries were recorded.

RESULTS: Surgery was performed for lumbar stenosis (184 patients; 75.4%), lumbar disc herniation (13 patients; 5.3%) or both (47 patients; 19.3%). Seventy-six patients (31.3%) patients experienced preoperative neurologic deficits; 48 (63.2%) of these patients improved, 28 (36.8%) of them were unchanged after surgery, and none deteriorated. New transient, postoperative, neurologic deficits occurred in 6 patients (2.5%). All 55 (22.5%) intraoperative complications were mild to moderate, and no severe surgical complications occurred. Two hundred fifteen patients (88%) had relevant medical disorders. Nineteen (7.7%) postoperative medical complications were reported in 17 patients (7%), of which 14 (73.7%) were severe and 5 (26.3%) were mild (4 pulmonary embolisms, 6 pneumonias, 3 myocardial infarctions, 1 postoperative renal failure, 5 urinary tract infections). Medical complications that necessitated intensive care unit treatment and resulted in lethal outcome were seen in 2 patients (0.8%).

CONCLUSION: Despite their age, the vast majority of octogenarians and nonagenarians benefited from lumbar decompression surgery. Mild to moderate intraoperative complications were relatively frequent, whereas severe intraoperative complications did not occur. The majority of medical complications was severe, but the incidence was acceptable, and the postoperative outcome was still favorable in most patients

Percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy compared with microendoscopic discectomy for lumbar disc herniation

J Neurosurg Spine 28:300–310, 2018

A prospective randomized controlled study was conducted to clarify whether percutaneous transforaminal endoscopic discectomy (PTED) results in better clinical outcomes and less surgical trauma than microendoscopic discectomy (MED).

METHODS In this single-center, open-label, randomized controlled trial, patients were included if they had persistent signs and symptoms of radiculopathy with corresponding imaging-confirmed lumbar disc herniation. Patients were randomly allocated to the PTED or the MED group by computer-generated randomization codes. The primary outcome was the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score 1 year after surgery. Secondary outcomes included scores of the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey bodily pain and physical function scales, EuroQol Group’s EQ-5D , and the visual analog scales for back pain and leg pain. Data including duration of operation, in-bed time, length of hospital stay, surgical cost and total hospital cost, complications, and reoperations were recorded.

RESULTS A total of 153 participants were randomly assigned to 2 treatment groups (PTED vs MED), and 89.5% (137 patients) completed 1 year of follow-up. Primary and secondary outcomes did not differ significantly between the treatment groups at each prespecified follow-up point (p > 0.05). For PTED, there was less postoperative improvement in ODI score in the median herniation subgroup at 1 week (p = 0.027), 3 months (p = 0.013), 6 months (p = 0.027), and 1 year (p = 0.028) compared with the paramedian subgroup. For MED, there was significantly less improvement in ODI score at 3 months (p = 0.008), 6 months (p = 0.028), and 1 year (p = 0.028) in the far-lateral herniation subgroup compared with the paramedian subgroup. The total complication rate over the course of 1 year was 13.75% in the PTED group and 16.44% in the MED group (p = 0.642). Five patients (6.25%) in the PTED group and 3 patients (4.11%) in the MED group suffered from residue/recurrence of herniation, for which reoperation was required.

CONCLUSIONS Over the 1-year follow-up period, PTED did not show superior clinical outcomes and did not seem to be a safer procedure for patients with lumbar disc herniation compared with MED. PTED had inferior results for median disc herniation, whereas MED did not seem to be the best treatment option for far-lateral disc herniation. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT01997086 (clinicaltrials.gov).

Early Postoperative Complications for Elderly Patients Undergoing Single-Level Decompression for Lumbar Disc Herniation, Ligamentous Hypertrophy, or Neuroforaminal Stenosis

Neurosurgery 81:1005–1010, 2017

Lumbar decompression for disc herniation is frequently performed on elderly patients, and this trend will continue as the population ages. Clinical reports on the complications of lumbar discectomy show good results and cost effectiveness in young or middle-aged patients.

OBJECTIVE: To assess and compare the morbidity of single-level lumbar disc surgery for radicular pain in a cohort of patients greater than 80 yr of age to that of a middle-aged cohort.

METHODS: A total of 9451 patients who received a single-level lumbar decompression procedure for disc displacement without myelopathy were retrospectively selected from a multicenter validated surgical database from the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program. A cohort with 485 patients greater than 80 yr of age (80+) was compared with a middle-aged cohort with 8966 patients between 45 and 65 yr. Preoperative comorbidity and postoperative outcome variables observed included mortality, myocardial infarction, return to the operating room, sepsis, deep vein thrombosis, transfusions, cardiac arrest necessitating cardiopulmonary resuscitation, coma greater than 24 h, urinary tract infection, acute renal failure, use of ventilator greater than 24 h, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, wound dehiscence, and postoperative infection.

RESULTS: The preoperative comorbidities and characteristics were significantly different between the middle-aged and the 80+ cohorts, with the older cohort having many more preoperative comorbidities. There was statistically significantly greater postoperative morbidity among the 80+ cohort regarding pulmonary embolism (0.8% vs 0.2%, P = .037), intra/postoperative transfusion requirement (1.9% vs 0.7%, P = .01), urinary tract infection (1.2% vs 0.3%, P = .011), and 30-d mortality (0.4% vs 0.1%, P = .046).

CONCLUSION: In this large sample of patients who received a single-level lumbar decompression procedure for disc displacement without myelopathy, elderly patients, particularly with American Society of Anesthesiologists class 3 and 4, had a statistically significant increase in morbidity and mortality, but the overall risk of complications remains low.

 

Predictive outcome factors in the young patient treated with lumbar disc herniation surgery

Surgical technique and effectiveness of microendoscopic discectomy for large uncontained lumbar disc herniations

J Neurosurg Spine 25:448–455, 2016

The aim of this study was to evaluate predictive factors for outcome after lumbar disc herniation surgery in young patients.

Methods In the national Swedish spine register, the authors identified 180 patients age 20 years or younger, in whom preoperative and 1-year postoperative data were available. The cohort was treated with primary open surgery due to lumbar disc herniation between 2000 and 2010. Before and 1 year after surgery, the patients graded their back and leg pain on a visual analog scale, quality of life by the 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey and EuroQol–5 Dimensions, and disability by the Oswestry Disability Index. Subjective satisfaction rate was registered on a Likert scale (satisfied, undecided, or dissatisfied). The authors evaluated if age, sex, preoperative level of leg and back pain, duration of leg pain, pain distribution, quality of life, mental status, and/or disability were associated with the outcome. The primary end point variable was the grade of patient satisfaction.

Results Lumbar disc herniation surgery in young patients normalizes quality of life according to the 36-Item Short- Form Health Survey, and only 4.5% of the patients were unsatisfied with the surgical outcome. Predictive factors for inferior postoperative patient-reported outcome measures (PROM) scores were severe preoperative leg or back pain, low preoperative mental health, and pronounced preoperative disability, but only low preoperative mental health was associated with inferiority in the subjective grade of satisfaction. No associations were found between preoperative duration of leg pain, distribution of pain, or health-related quality of life and the postoperative PROM scores or the subjective grade of satisfaction.

Conclusions Lumbar disc herniation surgery in young patients generally yields a satisfactory outcome. Severe preoperative pain, low mental health, and severe disability increase the risk of reaching low postoperative PROM scores, but are only of relevance clinically (low subjective satisfaction) for patients with low preoperative mental health.

Repeated 3.0 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging After Clinically Successful Lumbar Disc Surgery

Repeated 3.0 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging After Clinically Successful Lumbar Disc Surgery

Spine 2016;41:239–245

Study Design. Prospective cohort study.

Objective. To describe the naturally occurring magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings after successful microsurgical removal of lumbar disc herniation with repeated MRI examinations.

Summary of Background Data. The interpretation of MRI after spinal surgery may be particularly challenging and image findings do not always correlate to clinical findings. Early postoperative MRI has limited value in the evaluation of patients after surgery for lumbar disc herniation.

Methods. Prospective study of 30 successfully operated patients, which underwent 3.0 T MRI within 24 h after surgery for lumbar disc herniation and repeated at 6 weeks and 3 months postoperatively. Postoperative image findings (nerve root enhancement, nerve root thickening, displacement or compression of the nerve root, and residual mass size and signal) were assessed quantitatively. Inter-rater reliability was tested.

Results. Inter-rater reliability between neuroradiologists was moderate for assessed MRI variables. In the immediate postoperative phase, compression or dislocation of the nerve root at the operated level was common. A residual mass at the operated level was seen in 80%, 47%, and 33% after 24 h, 6 weeks, and 3 months, respectively. Postoperative dislocation or compression of the nerve root from residual masses was seen in 67%, 24%, and 14% after 24 h, 6 weeks, and 3 months, respectively. A residual mass with a higher signal than muscle on T2-weighted images was seen in 80%, 30%, and 17% after 24 h, 6 weeks, and 3 months, respectively.

Conclusion. A residual mass with compression or dislocation of the nerve root at the operated level, that disappears over 3 months, is a common MRI finding in patients successfully operated for symptomatic lumbar disc herniation. An expectant approach instead of early reoperations may perhaps be preferred in patients with residual pain and root compression due to residual masses with high T2-signal since these often seem to resolve spontaneously.

Level of Evidence: 3

Minimally invasive tubular microdiscectomy for recurrent lumbar disc herniation

MIS discectomy

J Neurosurg Spine 24:48–53, 2016

The aim of the study was to investigate the safety and ef cacy of minimally invasive tubular microdiscec- tomy for the treatment of recurrent lumbar disc herniation (LDH). As opposed to endoscopic techniques, namely micro- endoscopic and endoscopic transforaminal discectomy, this microscopically assisted technique has never been used for the treatment of recurrent LDH.

Methods: Thirty consecutive patients who underwent minimally invasive tubular microdiscectomy for recurrent LDH were included in the study. The preoperative and postoperative visual analog scale (VAS) scores for pain, the clinical outcome according to modified Macnab criteria, and complications were analyzed retrospectively. The minimum follow-up was 1.5 years. Student t-test with paired samples was used for the statistical comparison of pre- and postoperative VAS scores. A p value < 0.05 was considered to be statistically significant.

Results: The mean operating time was 90 ± 35 minutes. The VAS score for leg pain was significantly reduced from 5.9 ± 2.1 preoperatively to 1.7 ± 1.3 postoperatively (p < 0.001). The overall success rate (excellent or good outcome according to Macnab criteria) was 90%. Incidental durotomy occurred in 5 patients (16.7%) without neurological consequences, CSF fistula, or negative influence to the clinical outcome. Instability occurred in 2 patients (6.7%).

Conclusions: The clinical outcome of minimally invasive tubular microdiscectomy is comparable to the reported success rates of other minimally invasive techniques. The dural tear rate is not associated to higher morbidity or worse outcome. The technique is an equally effective and safe treatment option for recurrent LDH.

Surgical technique and effectiveness of microendoscopic discectomy for large uncontained lumbar disc herniations: a prospective, randomized, controlled study with 8 years of follow-up

Surgical technique and effectiveness of microendoscopic discectomy for large uncontained lumbar disc herniations

Eur Spine J (2014) 23:1992–1999

There is a long-held concept among spine surgeons that endoscopic lumbar discectomy procedures are reserved for small-contained disc herniation; 8-year follow-up has not been reported. The purpose of this study is to assess microendoscopic discectomy (MED) in patients with large uncontained lumbar disc herniation (the anteroposterior diameter of the extruded fragment is 6–12 mm or more on axial cuts of MRI) and report long-term outcome.

Methods One hundred eighty-five patients with MED or standard open discectomy underwent follow-up for 8 years. Primary (clinical) outcomes data included Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) for back and leg symptoms and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) to quantify pain and disability, respectively. Secondary (objective) outcomes data included operative time, blood loss, postoperative analgesics, length of hospital stay, time to return to work, reoperation and complication rate, patient satisfaction index (PSI), and modified (MacNab) criteria.

Results At the end of the follow-up, the leg pain relief was statistically significant for both groups. NRS back pain, ODI, PSI and MacNab criteria showed significant deterioration for control group. Secondary outcomes data of MED group were significantly better than the control group.

Conclusions Large, uncontained, lumbar disc herniations can be sufficiently removed using MED which is an effective alternative to open discectomy procedures with remarkable long-term outcome. Although the neurological outcome of the two procedures is the same, the morbidity of MED is significantly less than open discectomy. Maximum benefit can be gained if we adhere to strict selection criteria. The optimum indication is single- or multi-level radiculopathy secondary to a single-level, large, uncontained, lumbar disc herniation.

Long-term follow-up of standard microdiscectomy versus minimal access surgery for lumbar disc herniations

Long-term follow-up of standard microdiscectomy versus minimal access surgery for lumbar disc herniations

Acta Neurochir (2013) 155:2333–2338

Surgery of lumbar disc herniations is one of the most common neurosurgical procedures. New surgical approaches and techniques are constantly evolving. We present our long-term follow-up results comparing standard open microdiscectomy (SOMD) andminimal access microdiscectomy (MAMD) for single-level lumbar disc herniations.

Methods Patients were randomized in two groups receiving eitherMAMDor SOMD. Physical and mental health and pain relief were assessed (ODI, SF-36 questionnaire, VAS leg and back pain). In addition, all patients received MR imaging for morphological evaluation of postoperative peridural scar tissue formation.

Results Of the 60 initial patients (SOMD: 30 pts, MAMD: 30 pts), 38 were available for long-term follow-up. Mean follow-up time was 33 months. Long-term follow-up revealed significant postoperative pain relief in both groups. Good to excellent results concerning physical and mental health and pain relief were achieved in both groups. Significantly less peridural scar tissue formation was observed in the MAMD patients, but without clinical impact.

Conclusion MAMD is a feasible alternative to the standard open approach. Both groups show significant and long-lasting pain relief and good to excellent results regarding healthrelated quality of life. Congruent to our short-term results, we observed slightly but not statistically significant better clinical results in the MAMD group when compared to the SOMD group.

What happens to Modic changes following lumbar discectomy?

J Neurosurg Spine 13:562–567, 2010. DOI: 10.3171/2010.5.SPINE09818

The natural history of Modic changes (MCs) in the lumbar spine is often marked by conversion from one type to another, but their course following lumbar discectomy remains unknown. The authors sought to study the impact of surgery on the natural history of these lesions.

Methods. Forty-one patients treated with lumbar microdiscectomy between 2004 and 2005 were enrolled in this study and underwent clinical evaluation and repeat MR imaging after a median follow-up of 41 months (range 32–59 months). Preoperative and follow-up MR images were reviewed and the type, location, and extent of MCs at the operated level were recorded and compared.

Results. The study population consisted of 27 men and 14 women with a mean age of 54 years (range 24–78 years). During the follow-up period, the prevalence of MCs increased from 46.3% to 78%, and 26 patients (63.4%) had Type 2 lesions at the operated level. Of the 22 patients without MCs, 4 (18.2%) converted to Type 1 and 9 (40.9%) to Type 2. Of the 5 Type 1 lesions, 3 (60%) converted to Type 2, and 2 (40%) remained Type 1 but increased in size. In contrast, none of the 14 Type 2 changes converted to another type, although 10 (71.4%) increased in extent. There were no reverse conversions to Type 0.

Conclusions. Following lumbar discectomy, most patients develop Type 2 changes at the operated level, possibly as a result of accelerated degeneration in the operated disc. Neither the preoperative presence of MCs nor their postoperative course appears to affect the clinical outcome.

Sagittal spinal alignment in patients with lumbar disc herniation

Eur Spine J (2010) 19:435–438. DOI 10.1007/s00586-009-1240-1

A retrospective cross-sectional study was designed to evaluate total sagittal spinal alignment in patients with lumbar disc herniation (LDH) and healthy subjects. Abnormal sagittal spinal alignment could cause persistent low back pain in lumbar disease. Previous studies analyzed sciatic scoliotic list in patients with lumbar disc herniation; but there is little or no information on the relationship between sagittal alignment and subjective findings.

The study subjects were 61 LDH patients and 60 age-matched healthy subjects. Preoperative and 6-month postoperatively lateral whole-spine standing radiographs were assessed for the distance between C7 plumb line and posterior superior corner on the top margin of S1 sagittal vertical axis (SVA), lumbar lordotic angle between the top margin of the first lumbar vertebra and first sacral vertebra (L1S1), pelvic tilting angle (PA), and pelvic morphologic angle (PRS1). Subjective symptoms were evaluated by the Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) score for lower back pain (nine points).

The mean SVA value of the LDH group (32.7 ± 46.5 mm, ± SD) was significantly larger than that of the control (2.5 ± 17.1 mm), while L1S1 was smaller (36.7 ± 14.5) and PA was larger (25.1 ± 9.0) in LDH than control group (49.0 ± 10.0 and 18.2 ± 6.0, respectively). At 6 months after surgery, the malalignment recovered to almost the same level as the control group.

SVA correlated with the subjective symptoms measured by the JOA score. Sagittal spinal alignment in LDH exhibits more anterior translation of the C7 plumb line, less lumbar lordosis, and a more vertical sacrum. Measurements of these spinal parameters allowed assessment of the pathophysiology of LDH.