, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 29-35

Fitness for work after surgery for lumbar disc herniation: a retrospective study

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Abstract

This report retrospectively evaluates fitness for work in 3956 cases of surgery for lumbar disc herniation between 1992 and 1994. Patient records were derived from a database including all interventions of the insured population of the largest Belgian sickness fund. The datafile consisted of 126 cases of percutaneous nucleotomy (nucleotomy group), 286 cases of lumbar disc surgery with fusion (fusion group) and 3544 cases of standard lumbar disc surgery (standard group). Fitness to resume work within 12 months after intervention was obtained in about 70% of the patients in the standard and nucleotomy groups but in only 45% of the patients in the fusion group. Ten medicosocial factors were related to fitness for work as outcome measure. Incapacity for work more than 12 months after intervention was defined as a bad outcome. Logistic regression was used to test the combined relative significance of the different variables. For the standard group a long duration of work incapacity before intervention, older age, lower benefit, employment as a blue-collar worker, a long duration of hospital stay and unemployment were significantly associated with a poor outcome. Related factors for the fusion group were a long duration of work incapacity before operation, a long duration of hospital stay and unemployment. For the nucleotomy group, no factor was significantly associated with a poor outcome. For the total group, discectomy combined with fusion was significantly related to a poor outcome whereas a standard discectomy and a percutaneous nucleotomy did not differ in their impact on fitness for work.

Received: 12 February 1997 Revised: 26 July 1997 Accepted: 23 August 1997