Patient Satisfaction Is Good Indicator of Success after Spinal Surgery

July 24, 2015 – Patient satisfaction ratings after surgery for spinal degenerative disease—especially in terms of reduced pain and disability—are a good indicator of the procedure’s effectiveness, reports a study in the August issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

“Patient satisfaction with outcome may accurately represent the effectiveness of surgical spine care in terms of one-year improvement in pain and disability,” according to the new research by Dr. Clinton J. Devin of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, and colleagues. But more research is needed to clarify the impact of insurance status and initial severity scores on the outcomes of surgery for degenerative spine disease.

Reduced Pain and Disability Predict Satisfaction after Spine Surgery
The researchers analyzed one-year follow-up data on 1,645 patients undergoing surgery for degenerative disease of the upper (cervical) and lower (lumbar) spine. Before and one year after surgery, the patients were evaluated using standard rating scales for disability and neck, back, arm and leg pain.

Based on a spinal surgery satisfaction scale, 83 percent of patient said they were satisfied with the outcomes of surgery one year later. The researchers wanted to see whether any of the factors evaluated before surgery could predict whether patients would be satisfied or dissatisfied with their outcomes.

After adjustment for a wide array of patient-specific factors, several specific predictors were identified. Patients who didn’t have at least a 15 percent improvement on a standard disability rating scale—considered to be the “minimal clinically important difference”—were four times more likely to be dissatisfied with their surgical outcomes.


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