Kerr D1, Zhao W, Lurie JD. Clin ortho res 2014
Although previous studies have illustrated improvements in surgical cohorts for patients with disc herniation, there are limited data on long-term outcomes comparing surgical and nonsurgical outcomes.
Patients with symptomatic lumbar radiculopathy for at least 6 weeks associated with nerve root irritation or neurologic deficit on examination and a confirmed disc herniation.Those who declined randomization entered the observational cohort group based on treatment preference but were otherwise treated and followed identically to the randomized cohort. Of those in the randomized cohort, 309 of 501 (62%) provided 8-year data and in the observational group 469 of 743 (63%). Patients were treated with either surgical discectomy or usual nonoperative care. By 8 years, only 148 of 245 (60%) of those randomized to surgery had undergone surgery, whereas 122 of 256 (48%) of those randomized to nonoperative treatment had undergone surgery.
The intent-to-treat analysis of the randomized cohort at 8 years showed no difference between surgical and nonoperative treatment for the primary outcome measures. Secondary outcome measures of sciatica bothersomeness, leg pain, satisfaction with symptoms, and self-rated improvement showed greater improvement in the group randomized to surgery despite high levels of crossover. The as-treated analysis of the combined randomized and observational cohorts, adjusted for potential confounders, showed advantages for surgery for all primary outcome measures; however, this has the potential for confounding from other unrecognized variables. Smokers and patients with depression or comorbid joint problems had worse functional outcomes overall (with surgery and nonoperative care) but similar surgical treatment effects. Patients with sequestered fragments, symptom duration greater than 6 months, those with higher levels of low back pain, or who were neither working nor disabled at baseline showed greater surgical treatment effects.
The intent-to-treat analysis showed no difference over 8 years for primary outcomes of overall pain & physical function….sequestered fragments, higher levels of baseline back pain with radiculopathy, a longer duration of symptoms, and those who were neither working nor disabled at baseline with a greater relative advantage from surgery at 8 years.