Study finds spine surgery yields greater benefits over nonsurgical treatments

February 24, 2008

A research study by orthopedic spine, back and neck surgeon at Rush University Medical Center Dr. Howard An and colleagues found that patients who underwent surgery for spinal stenosis showed significantly more improvement in all primary outcomes than did patients who were treated nonsurgically. The study findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, February 21.

Spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of a passage in the spine through which nerves pass, and it can result in a debilitating pain in the lower back, hips and legs. The surgical solution involves enlarging the opening to relieve the pressure on the nerves, in an operation called a laminectomy, one of the most common operations performed in the U.S.

The study results come from the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that involved about 654 patients at 13 treatment centers across the country. Rush was the only medical center in Illinois involved in the study.

The study followed 654 surgical candidate patients with a history of at least 12 weeks of symptoms and spinal stenosis, of whom 398 ultimately received decompressive surgery. After two years, 63 percent of those who had surgery said they had a major improvement in their condition, compared with 29 percent among those who got nonsurgical treatment.

In terms of self-reported pain and function, both groups improved over the two-year period, though the final scores for patient who had surgery were in the 60-point range, while scores for those who stuck with nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy, were in the low 40s.

The study separated patients who stuck with their random assignment to surgery or nonsurgery options. The randomized patients’ results were very similar to those who selected one course or the other.

Source: Rush University

Explore further: Synthetic 3D-printed material helps bones regrow

Related Stories

Synthetic 3D-printed material helps bones regrow

September 28, 2016

A cheap and easy to make synthetic bone material has been shown to stimulate new bone growth when implanted in the spines of rats and a monkey's skull, researchers said Wednesday.

Tumor paint brings light to toddler's brain tumor

September 28, 2016

In December of last year, Laura Coffman began to notice that something wasn't quite right with her 2-year-old son, Hunter. He was leaning to one side and seemed to lose his balance easily. When he became lethargic and started ...

Weight loss surgery associated with increased fracture risk

July 27, 2016

Severely obese patients undergoing weight loss surgery are more likely to have increased fracture risks both before and after the surgical procedure compared to obese and non-obese people who don't need surgery, finds a large ...

Recommended for you

Natural compound reduces signs of aging in healthy mice

October 27, 2016

Much of human health hinges on how well the body manufactures and uses energy. For reasons that remain unclear, cells' ability to produce energy declines with age, prompting scientists to suspect that the steady loss of efficiency ...

A metabolic switch to turn off obesity

October 27, 2016

You've tried all the diets. No matter: you've still regained the weight you lost, even though you ate well and you exercised regularly! This may be due to a particular enzyme in the brain: the alpha/beta hydrolase domain-6 ...

Mitochondria control stem cell fate

October 27, 2016

What happens in intestinal epithelial cells during a chronic illness? Basic research conducted at the Chair of Nutrition and Immunology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) addressed this question by generating a new ...

Scientists develop 'world-first' 3-D mammary gland model

October 27, 2016

A team of researchers from Cardiff University and Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute has succeeded in creating a three-dimensional mammary gland model that will pave the way for a better understanding of the mechanisms ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Feb 24, 2008
I'm interested to know if the study differentiated between lateral or central stenosis.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.