Original Articles

European Spine Journal

, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 335-338

First online:

Severe sciatica: a 13-year follow-up of 342 patients

  • F. NykvistAffiliated withResearch and Development Centre of the Social Insurance Institution
  • , M. HurmeAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, Turku City Hospital
  • , H. AlarantaAffiliated withRehabilitation Unit (Orton), Invalid Foundation
  • , M. KaitsaariAffiliated withResearch and Development Centre of the Social Insurance Institution

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This study involved 342 patients hospitalized because of severe, persistent sciatica suggestive of a lumbar intervertebral disc herniation. After standard clinical evaluation. EMG and myelography, 220 patients underwent lumbar discectomy. The remaining 122 patients were treated conservatively. Follow-up examinations were arranged after 1, 5 and 13 years. The study focused on the rehabilitation outcome in general and differences in outcome between the two treatment groups. Several indicators showed a rather poor outcome for sciatica patients during the 13-year follow-up period. In the operated group 16% had been re-operated because of lumbar disc herniation. True recurrence of herniation (same level and side) occurred in 8%. In the conservatively treated group 14% had undergone spinal surgery. Nearly 70% of the patients still reported sciatica. Self-assessed levels of low back pain were “no change/worse” for 19% in the operated group and for 44% in the conservatively treated group. In both the study groups, nearly 40% of the subjects had retired on disability pensions.

Key words

Sciatica Lumbar herniated disc Discectomy Conservative treatment