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      Recurrent Versus Primary Lumbar Disc Herniation Surgery: Patient-reported Outcomes in the Swedish Spine Register Swespine

      , MD, PhD, , MD, , MD, PhD, , MD, PhD, , MD, PhD

      Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research

      Springer US

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          Lumbar disc herniation (LDH) is a common indication for lumbar spine surgery. The proportion of patients having a second surgery within 2 years varies in the literature between 0.5% and 24%, with recurrent herniation being the most common cause. Several studies have not found any relevant outcome differences between patients undergoing surgery for primary LDH and patients undergoing reoperation for a recurrent LDH, but these studies have limitations, including small sample size and retrospective design.


          We (1) compared patient-reported outcomes between patients operated on for primary LDH and patients reoperated on for recurrent LDH within 1 year after index surgery and (2) determined risk factors for worse outcomes.


          We obtained data from the Swedish National Spine Register, Swespine, where patient-reported outcomes are collected using mailed protocols at 1, 2, 5, and 10 years after surgery. Of the 13,562 patients identified who underwent LDH between January 2000 and May 2011, 13,305 (98%) underwent primary surgery for LDH and 257 (2%) underwent reoperation for a recurrent LDH within the first year. Patient-reported outcomes at 1 to 2 years were available for 8497 patients (63%), 8350 of 13,305 (63%) in the primary LDH group and 147 of 257 (57%) in the recurrent LDH group (p = 0.068). We compared leg and back pain (VAS: 0–100), function (Oswestry Disability Index [ODI]: 0–100), quality of life (EQ-5D: −0.59 to 1.0), patient satisfaction, and global assessment of leg pain between groups. We also analyzed rsik factors for worse global assessment and satisfaction.


          Mean (95% CI) differences in improvement between groups favoring patients with primary LDH were VAS leg pain 9 (4–14), ODI 6 (3–9), and EQ-5D 0.09 (0.04–0.15). While statistically significant, these effect sizes may be lower than the minimal clinically important differences often referred to. Percentage of satisfied patients was 79% and 58% in the primary and recurrent LDH groups, respectively (p < 0.001), and percentage of patients with no or better leg pain (global assessment) was 74% and 65%, respectively (p = 0.008). Reoperation for recurrent LDH represented the largest independent risk for dissatisfaction; this factor and smoking represented similar risks for less improvement in leg pain.


          Repeat surgery for a recurrent LDH was performed with good probability for improvement, although not as good as for primary LDH surgery, and patients undergoing repeated surgery were less satisfied. Studies on risk factors for recurrence are warranted.

          Level of Evidence

          Level II, therapeutic study. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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          Most cited references 17

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          Recurrent lumbar disc herniation: results of operative management.

          A retrospective evaluation of 28 patients with recurrent lumbar disc herniation. To analyze the outcome of the revisions (repeat discectomy), the risk factors of recurrent disc herniation, and the factors that influenced the outcomes of repeat discectomy. Recurrent herniation following disc excision has been reported in 5-11% of patients. There have been many studies on recurrent disc herniation, but these studies have analyzed mixed patient populations. Recurrent lumbar disc herniation was defined as disc herniation at the same level, regardless of ipsilateral or contralateral herniation, with a pain-free interval greater than 6 months. Eight women and 20 men were studied. The levels of disc herniation were L4-L5 (19 cases) and L5-S1 (9 cases). Gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging was performed in all patients. Revision surgery was performed in all patients by using conventional open discectomy. The pain-free interval, side and degree of herniation, operation time, duration of hospital stay, and clinical improvement rate were recorded. The mean pain-free interval was 60.8 months. There were 21 cases of ipsilateral herniation and 7 cases of contralateral herniation. The degrees of herniation in revision were protrusion (14 cases), subligamentous extrusion (3 cases), transligamentous extrusion (8 cases), and sequestration (3 cases). The degrees of herniation in the previous discectomy were protrusion (17 cases), subligamentous extrusion (10 cases), and transligamentous extrusion (1 case). The length of surgery was significantly different (P = 0.003) between the revision surgery and the previous discectomy. There were no significant differences between revision and previous surgery in terms of hospital stay or clinical improvement rates. Age, gender, smoking, professions, traumatic events, level and degree of herniation, and pain-free interval did not affect the clinical outcomes. Conventional open discectomy as a revision surgery for recurrent lumbar disc herniation showed satisfactory results that were comparable with those of primary discectomy. Based on the results of this study, repeat discectomy can be recommended for the management of recurrent lumbar disc herniation.
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            Recurrent lumbar disc herniation after single-level lumbar discectomy: incidence and health care cost analysis.

            Same-level recurrent lumbar disc herniation complicates outcomes after primary discectomy in a subset of patients. The health care costs associated with the management of this complication are currently unknown. We set out to identify the incidence and health care cost of same-level recurrent disc herniation after single-level lumbar discectomy at our institution. We retrospectively reviewed 156 consecutive patients undergoing primary single-level lumbar discectomy at one institution. The incidence of symptomatic same-level recurrent disc herniation either responding to conservative therapy or requiring revision discectomy was assessed. Institutional billing and accounting records were reviewed to determine the billing costs of all diagnostic and therapeutic measures used for patients experiencing recurrent disc herniation. Twelve months after surgery, 141 patients were available for follow-up. Of these patients, 124 (88%) were symptom free or had minimal symptoms not affecting their daily activity. Radiographically proven symptomatic same-level recurrent disc herniation developed in 17 patients (12%) a median of 8 months after primary discectomy. Eleven patients (7%) required revision surgery, whereas 6 (3.9%) responded to conservative therapy alone. Diagnosis and management of recurrent disc herniation were associated with a mean cost of $26,593 per patient, and the mean cost was markedly less for patients responding to conservative treatment ($2315) compared with those requiring revision surgery ($39,836) (P < 0.001). Of 141 primary lumbar discectomies performed at our institution with the patients followed for 1 year, the total cost associated with the management of subsequent recurrent disc herniation was $452,083 ($289,797 per 100 primary discectomies). In our experience, recurrent lumbar disc herniation occurred in more than 10% of patients and was associated with substantial health care costs. Development of novel techniques to prevent recurrent lumbar disc herniation is warranted to decrease the health care costs and morbidity associated with this complication. Prolonged conservative management should be attempted when possible to reduce the health care costs of this complication.
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              Swespine: the Swedish spine register

              Introduction Swespine, the Swedish National Spine Register, has existed for 20 years and is in general use within the country since over 10 years regarding degenerative lumbar spine disorders. Today there are protocols for registering all disorders of the entire spinal column. Materials and methods Patient-based pre- and postoperative questionnaires, completed before surgery and at 1, 2, 5 and 10 years postoperatively. Among patient-based data are VAS pain, ODI, SF-36 and EQ-5D. Postoperatively evaluation of leg and back pain as compared to preoperatively ("global assessment"), overall satisfaction with outcome and working conditions are registered in addition to the same parameters as preoperatively evaluation. A yearly report is produced including an analytic part of a certain topic, in this issue disc prosthesis surgery. More than 75,000 surgically treated patients are registered to date with an increasing number yearly. The present report includes 7,285 patients; 1-, 2- and 5-year follow-up data of previously operated patients are also included for lumbar disorders as well as for disc prosthesis surgery. Results For the degenerative lumbar spine disorders (disc herniation, spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis and DDD) significant improvements are seen in all aspects as exemplified by pronounced improvement regarding EQ-5D and ODI. Results seem to be stable over time. Spinal stenosis is the most common indication for spine surgery. Disc prosthesis surgery yields results on a par with fusion surgery in disc degenerative pain. The utility of spine surgery is well documented by the results. Conclusion Results of spine surgery as documented on a national basis can be utilized for quality assurance and quality improvement as well as for research purposes, documenting changes over time and bench marking when introducing new surgical techniques. A basis for international comparisons is also laid.

                Author and article information

                Clin Orthop Relat Res
                Clin. Orthop. Relat. Res
                Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
                Springer US (New York )
                8 April 2014
                8 April 2014
                June 2015
                : 473
                : 6
                : 1978-1984
                [ ]Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Future Academy, Ryhov Hospital, 551 85 Jönköping, Sweden
                [ ]Department of Orthopaedics, Sundsvall Hospital, Sundsvall, Sweden
                [ ]Department of Orthopaedics, University Hospital Uppsala, Uppsala, Sweden
                [ ]Department of Orthopaedics, Skane University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden
                [ ]Spine Center Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
                © The Author(s) 2014

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

                Symposium: Current Approaches to the Management of Lumbar Disc Herniation
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