Surgical versus nonoperative treatment for lumbar disc herniation: eight-year results for the spine patient outcomes research trial

Jon D Lurie, Tor D Tosteson, Anna N A Tosteson, Wenyan Zhao, Tamara S Morgan, William A Abdu, Harry Herkowitz, James N Weinstein
Spine 2014 January 1, 39 (1): 3-16

STUDY DESIGN: Concurrent prospective randomized and observational cohort studies.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the 8-year outcomes of surgery versus nonoperative care.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Although randomized trials have demonstrated small short-term differences in favor of surgery, long-term outcomes comparing surgical with nonoperative treatment remain controversial.

METHODS: Surgical candidates with imaging-confirmed lumbar intervertebral disc herniation meeting Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial eligibility criteria enrolled into prospective randomized (501 participants) and observational cohorts (743 participants) at 13 spine clinics in 11 US states. Interventions were standard open discectomy versus usual nonoperative care. Main outcome measures were changes from baseline in the SF-36 Bodily Pain and Physical Function scales and the modified Oswestry Disability Index-AAOS/Modems version assessed at 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months, and annually thereafter.

RESULTS: Advantages were seen for surgery in intent-to-treat analyses for the randomized cohort for all primary and secondary outcomes other than work status; however, with extensive nonadherence to treatment assignment (49% patients assigned to nonoperative therapy receiving surgery versus 60% of patients assigned to surgery) these observed effects were relatively small and not statistically significant for primary outcomes (bodily pain, physical function, Oswestry Disability Index). Importantly, the overall comparison of secondary outcomes was significantly greater with surgery in the intent-to-treat analysis (sciatica bothersomeness [P > 0.005], satisfaction with symptoms [P > 0.013], and self-rated improvement [P > 0.013]) in long-term follow-up. An as-treated analysis showed significant surgical treatment effects for primary outcome measures (mean change, surgery vs. nonoperative care; treatment effect; 95% confidence interval): bodily pain (45.3 vs. 34.4; 10.9; 7.7 to 14); PF (42.2 vs. 31.5; 10.6; 7.7 to 13.5); and Oswestry Disability Index (-36.2 vs. -24.8; -11.3; -13.6 to -9.1).

CONCLUSION: Carefully selected patients who underwent surgery for a lumbar disc herniation achieved greater improvement than nonoperatively treated patients; there was little to no degradation of outcomes in either group (operative and nonoperative) from 4 to 8 years.


Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"