The Duration of Symptoms Influences Outcomes After Lumbar Microdiscectomies: A Michigan Spine Surgery Improvement Collaborative.

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Global spine journal


STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective Cohort.

OBJECTIVE: We investigate whether duration of symptoms a patient experiences prior to lumbar microdiscectomy affects pain, lifestyle, and return to work metrics after surgery.

METHODS: A retrospective review of patients with a diagnosis of lumbar radiculopathy undergoing microdiscectomy was conducted using a statewide registry. Patients were grouped based on self-reported duration of symptoms prior to surgical intervention (Group 1: symptoms less than 3 months; Group 2: symptoms between 3 months and 1 year; and Group 3: symptoms greater than 1 year). Radicular pain scores, PROMIS PF Physical Function measure (PROMIS PF), EQ-5D scores, and return to work rates at 90 days, 1 year, and 2 years after surgery were compared using univariate and multivariate analysis.

RESULTS: There were 2408 patients who underwent microdiscectomy for lumbar disc herniation for radiculopathy with 532, 910, and 955 in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Postoperative leg pain was lower for Group 1 at 90 days, 1 year, and 2 years compared to Groups 2 and 3 (

CONCLUSION: Patients with prolonged symptoms prior to surgical intervention experience smaller improvements in postoperative leg pain, PROMIS PF, and EQ-5D than those who undergo surgery earlier. Patients undergoing surgery within 3 months of symptom onset have the highest rates of return to work at 1 year after surgery.

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