Object. This outcome study was undertaken to investigate the long-term results obtained in surgically treated pediatric patients with lumbar disc disease by using standardized medical outcome scales and clinical follow-up examination.
Methods. Twenty nine patients 17 years of age or younger underwent surgery between 1968 and 1998 for lumbar disc disease. The follow-up period ranged from 4 months to 30.5 years (mean 8.5 years). Outcome scores (health profiles) were generated using a standardized medical outcome scale, the Short Form health survey questionnaire (SF-36), and a condition-specific back pain outcome scale. Clinical follow-up data were obtained by telephone interview.
The health profile of the study population closely paralleled that of the normal population and was distinctly different from the health profile of adults with low-back pain. Only physical functioning, as measured by a scale of the SF-36, was found to be impaired in a subset of the study population. The rate of reoperation was 24% over the course of the follow-up period. In contrast to similar studies in adults, there were no identifiable predictive factors for either reoperation or poor outcome.
Conclusions. Lumbar disc disease in the pediatric population does not appear to lead to chronic complaints of back pain, and it does not appear to have a negative impact on overall health. This finding suggests that pediatric lumbar disc disease may be a separate entity distinct from adult lumbar disc disease, and therefore, the same conclusions regarding long-term outcome cannot be applied to the pediatric population.