Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 158, Issue 10, pp 1875–1881 | Cite as

Pre- and postoperative correlation of patient-reported outcome measures with standardized Timed Up and Go (TUG) test results in lumbar degenerative disc disease

  • Oliver P. GautschiEmail author
  • Holger Joswig
  • Marco V. Corniola
  • Nicolas R. Smoll
  • Karl Schaller
  • Gerhard Hildebrandt
  • Martin N. Stienen
Clinical Article - Spine



The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is a reliable tool for evaluating objective functional impairment (OFI) in patients with degenerative disc disease before a surgical intervention. The aim of this study is to assess the validity of the TUG test to measure change in function postoperatively.


In a prospective two-center study, OFI was assessed by the TUG test in patients scheduled for lumbar spine surgery, as well as 3 days (D3) and 6 weeks (W6) postoperatively. At each time point, the TUG test results were correlated with established subjective measures of pain intensity (visual analogue scale (VAS) for back and leg pain), functional impairment (Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL; Short Form-12 (SF12)).


The patient cohort comprised 136 patients with a mean age of 57.7 years; 76 were males, 54 had a microdiscectomy for lumbar disc herniation, 58 a decompression for a lumbar spinal stenosis, 24 had a surgical fusion procedure. The mean OFI t-score was 125.1 before surgery, and as patients improved on the subjective measures in the postoperative interval, the OFI t-score likewise decreased to 118.8 (D3) and 103.4 (W6). The Pearson correlation coefficient (PCC) between the OFI t-score and VAS leg pain was 0.187 preoperatively (p = 0.029) and 0.252 at W6 (p = 0.003). The PCC between OFI t-score and the ODI was 0.324 preoperatively (p < 0.001) and 0.413 at W6 (p < 0.001). The PCC between OFI t-score and physical HRQoL (SF12) was −0.091 preoperatively (p = 0.293) and −0.330 at W6 (p < 0.001).


The TUG test is sensitive to change, and reflects the postoperative functional outcome even more exact than preoperatively, as indicated by better correlation coefficients of the OFI t-score with subjective measures of pain intensity, functional impairment and HRQoL.


Objective outcome measurement Timed Up and Go test Lumbar spine surgery Degenerative disc disease Postoperative outcome Objective functional impairment Correlation 



The authors thank Cornelia Lüthi (study nurse of the Department of Surgery, Cantonal Hospital St. Gallen) and Dario Jucker (medical student of Zurich University) for their important contribution in the data collection.

Compliance with ethical standards


No funding was received for this research.

Conflict of interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

701_2016_2899_MOESM1_ESM.docx (115 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOCX 114 kb)
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Supplementary Table 2 (DOCX 115 kb)
701_2016_2899_MOESM3_ESM.docx (115 kb)
Supplementary Table 3 (DOCX 115 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver P. Gautschi
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Holger Joswig
    • 3
  • Marco V. Corniola
    • 1
  • Nicolas R. Smoll
    • 4
  • Karl Schaller
    • 1
  • Gerhard Hildebrandt
    • 4
  • Martin N. Stienen
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Neurosurgery and Faculty of MedicineUniversity Hospital GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  2. 2.Service de Neurochirurgie, Département des neurosciences cliniquesHôpitaux Universitaires de GenèveGenèveSuisse
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryCantonal Hospital St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department of NeurologyJohn Hunter HospitalNewcastleAustralia

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