Outcomes and presurgery correlates of lumbar discectomy in Utah Workers' Compensation patients

M. Scott DeBerard, Rick A. LaCaille, Glen Spielmans, Alan Colledge, Mary Ann Parlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background context: Lumbar discectomy is the most common type of back surgery performed in the United States. Outcomes after this procedure can be variable and it appears that Workers' Compensation patients might be at increased risk for poor outcomes. Purpose: To examine long-term multidimensional outcomes of lumbar discectomy within a cohort of Workers' Compensation patients from Utah and identify presurgical biopsychosocial factors related to poor outcomes. Study design/setting: A retrospective cohort study consisting of a review of presurgical medical records and assessment of patient outcomes via a telephone survey. Outcomes were assessed at least 2 years postsurgery. Patient sample: A consecutive sample of 271 workers from Utah who underwent lumbar discectomy from 1994 to 1999. A total of 134 patients were surveyed at the time of follow-up. Outcome measures: Patient satisfaction, Roland-Morris Disability Questionnaire, SF-36v2, and Stauffer-Coventry Index. Methods: A retrospective review of presurgical biopsychosocial variables and outcome assessment via telephone survey was conducted. Results: Work disability rate for the cohort was 12.7% (17/134). Analysis of patient satisfaction, back pain-related dysfunction, and the Short-Form Health Survey-36 subscales indicated approximately 25% of patients experienced poor outcomes. Older age, number of comorbid health conditions, assigned case manager, litigation, and time delay from injury to surgery were consistently statistically significant predictors (p<.05) of poor outcomes. Conclusions: Results of this study suggest that compensated back surgery patients are at greater risk for poor lumbar discectomy outcomes than noncompensation patients. Presurgery correlates of poor outcomes may be useful in identifying high-risk compensation patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalSpine Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Sources of support: This project was supported from grants provided by Utah State University. No funds were received from a commercial entity related to this research. Charity Allen and Reggie Jennings are also acknowledged for their invaluable help on this project.


  • Biopsychosocial
  • Lumbar discectomy
  • Patient outcomes
  • Prediction


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