Baseline Patient Characteristics Commonly Captured Before Surgery Do Not Accurately Predict Long-Term Outcomes of Lumbar Microdiscectomy Followed by Physiotherapy

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STUDY DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. OBJECTIVE: To develop and internally validate prognostic models based on commonly collected preoperative data for good and poor outcomes of lumbar microdiscectomy followed by physiotherapy. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Lumbar microdiscectomy followed by physiotherapy is a common intervention for lumbar radiculopathy. Postoperatively, a considerable percentage of people continues to experience pain and disability. Prognostic models for recovery are scarce. METHODS: We included 298 patients with lumbar radiculopathy who underwent microdiscectomy followed by physiotherapy. Primary outcomes were recovery and secondary outcomes were pain and disability at 12 months follow-up. Potential prognostic factors were selected from sociodemographic and biomedical data commonly captured preoperatively. The association between baseline characteristics and outcomes was evaluated using multivariable logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: At 12 months follow-up, 75.8% of the participants met the criterion for recovery. Variables in the model for good recovery included: younger age, leg pain greater than back pain, high level of disability, and a disc herniation at another level than L3-L4. The model for poor recovery included: lower educational level, prior back surgery, and disc herniation at L3-L4. Following internal validation, the explained variance (Nagelkerke R) and area under the curve for both models were poor (≤0.02 and ≤0.60, respectively). The discriminative ability of the models for disability and pain were also poor. CONCLUSION: The outcome of microdiscectomy followed by postoperative physiotherapy cannot be predicted accurately by commonly captured preoperative sociodemographic and biomedical factors. The potential value of other biomedical, personal, and external factors should be further investigated.3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E885-E891
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2020


  • biopsychosocial
  • low back pain
  • musculoskeletal health
  • neurosurgery
  • orthopedics
  • physiotherapy
  • prediction
  • prognosis
  • rehabilitation
  • surgery

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