Effectiveness of Microdiscectomy for Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Randomized Controlled Trial With 2 Years of Follow-up.

Osterman, Heikki MD; Seitsalo, Seppo MD, PhD; Karppinen, Jaro MD, PhD; Malmivaara, Antti MD, PhD

The purpose of this study was to assess effectiveness of microdiscectomy in lumbar disc herniation patients with 6 to 12 weeks of symptoms but no absolute indication for surgery.  Fifty-six patients (age range, 20-50 years) with a lumbar disc herniation, clinical findings of nerve root compression, and radicular pain lasting 6 to 12 weeks were randomized to microdiscectomy or conservative management. Fifty patients (89%) were available at the 2-year follow-up. Leg pain intensity was the primary outcome measure.  The results show that there were no clinically significant differences between the groups in leg or back pain intensity, subjective disability, or health-related quality of life over the 2-year follow-up, although discectomy seemed to be associated with a more rapid initial recovery. The authors conclude that lumbar microdiscectomy offered only modest short-term benefits in patients with sciatica due to disc extrusion or sequester.

Spine.    31(21):2409-2414, October 1, 2006.

View Abstract