According to a long term follow up study published in this month’s issue of SPINE, patients treated surgically for a herniated disc in their back fared better than those who received conservative care.
“The surgery for herniated/extruded lumbar disc disease has been markedly refined since its inception in the 1930’s,” says Dr. Donald Quest, neurosurgeon at The Spine Hospital at The Neurological Institute of New York. “Appropriately selected patients (those with congruent symptoms, physical findings, and images) in the hands of a well-trained surgeon, do consistently well post-operatively.”
Dartmouth researchers in New Hampshire followed more than a thousand patients from 13 different spine clinics in 11 US states. The patients were divided into two treatment groups: those who underwent open back surgery to remove the herniated disc, a procedure called a microdiscectomy, and those who received standard non-operative care. The patients were then followed for eight years during which time they were asked to rate their pain and functional ability at least once a year.
Researchers found that,”carefully selected patients who underwent surgery for a lumbar disc herniation achieved greater improvement than non-operatively treated patients; there was little to no degradation of outcomes in either group (operative and nonoperative) from 4 to 8 years.”
The study, Surgical Versus Nonoperative Treatment for Lumbar Disc Herniation: Eight-Year Results for the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial, can be found online here or in the January 01, 2014 issue of SPINE, – Volume 39 – Issue 1.
You can also learn more about the procedure highlighted in this study (microdiscectomy) here, and The Spine Hospital at The Neurological Institute of New York neurosurgeons at the Columbia University Medical Center who specialize in this procedure here, and in the links below: