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Khoi D. Than, Jill N. Curran, Daniel K. Resnick, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Zoher Ghogawala, and Praveen V. Mummaneni

OBJECTIVE

To date, the factors that predict whether a patient returns to work after lumbar discectomy are poorly understood. Information on postoperative work status is important in analyzing the cost-effectiveness of the procedure.

METHODS

An observational prospective cohort study was completed at 13 academic and community sites (NeuroPoint–Spinal Disorders [NeuroPoint-SD] registry). Patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy were included. Variables assessed included age, sex, body mass index (BMI), SF-36 physical function score, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) score, presence of diabetes, smoking status, systemic illness, workers' compensation status, and preoperative work status. The primary outcome was working status within 3 months after surgery. Stepwise logistic regression analysis was performed to determine which factors were predictive of return to work at 3 months following discectomy.

RESULTS

There were 127 patients (of 148 total) with data collected 3 months postoperatively. The patients' average age at the time of surgery was 46 ± 1 years, and 66.9% of patients were working 3 months postoperatively. Statistical analyses demonstrated that the patients more likely to return to work were those of younger age (44.5 years vs 50.5 years, p = 0.008), males (55.3% vs 28.6%, p = 0.005), those with higher preoperative SF-36 physical function scores (44.0 vs 30.3, p = 0.002), those with lower preoperative ODI scores (43.8 vs 52.6, p = 0.01), nonsmokers (83.5% vs 66.7%, p = 0.03), and those who were working preoperatively (91.8% vs 26.2%, p < 0.0001). When controlling for patients who were working preoperatively (105 patients), only age was a statistically significant predictor of postoperative return to work (44.1 years vs 51.1 years, p = 0.049).

CONCLUSIONS

In this cohort of lumbar discectomy patients, preoperative working status was the strongest predictor of postoperative working status 3 months after surgery. Younger age was also a predictor. Factors not influencing return to work in the logistic regression analysis included sex, BMI, SF-36 physical function score, ODI score, presence of diabetes, smoking status, and systemic illness.

Clinical trial registration no.: 01220921 (clinicaltrials.gov)

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Robert G. Whitmore, Jill N. Curran, Zarina S. Ali, Praveen V. Mummaneni, Christopher I. Shaffrey, Robert F. Heary, Michael G. Kaiser, Anthony L. Asher, Neil R. Malhotra, Joseph S. Cheng, John Hurlbert, Justin S. Smith, Subu N. Magge, Michael P. Steinmetz, Daniel K. Resnick, and Zoher Ghogawala

OBJECT

The authors have established a multicenter registry to assess the efficacy and costs of common lumbar spinal procedures using prospectively collected outcomes. Collection of these data requires an extensive commitment of resources from each site. The aim of this study was to determine whether outcomes data from shorter-interval follow-up could be used to accurately estimate long-term outcome following lumbar discectomy.

METHODS

An observational prospective cohort study was completed at 13 academic and community sites. Patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy for treatment of disc herniation were included. SF-36 and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) data were obtained preoperatively and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months postoperatively. Quality-adjusted life year (QALY) data were calculated using SF-6D utility scores. Correlations among outcomes at each follow-up time point were tested using the Spearman rank correlation test.

RESULTS

One hundred forty-eight patients were enrolled over 1 year. Their mean age was 46 years (49% female). Eleven patients (7.4%) required a reoperation by 1 year postoperatively. The overall 1-year follow-up rate was 80.4%. Lumbar discectomy was associated with significant improvements in ODI and SF-36 scores (p < 0.0001) and with a gain of 0.246 QALYs over the 1-year study period. The greatest gain occurred between baseline and 3-month follow-up and was significantly greater than improvements obtained between 3 and 6 months or 6 months and 1 year(p < 0.001). Correlations between 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year outcomes were similar, suggesting that 3-month data may be used to accurately estimate 1-year outcomes for patients who do not require a reoperation. Patients who underwent reoperation had worse outcomes scores and nonsignificant correlations at all time points.

CONCLUSIONS

This national spine registry demonstrated successful collection of high-quality outcomes data for spinal procedures in actual practice. Three-month outcome data may be used to accurately estimate outcome at future time points and may lower costs associated with registry data collection. This registry effort provides a practical foundation for the acquisition of outcome data following lumbar discectomy.