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Clinical and radiological factors related to the presence of motor deficit in lumbar disc prolapse: a prospective analysis of 70 consecutive cases with neurological deficit



To analyse the clinic-radiological factors associated with neurological deficit following lumbar disc herniation.


A prospective, cross-sectional study was performed in 140 cases of micro-discectomy following lumbar disc herniation. Group 1 included 70 consecutive patients with motor deficit and group 2 (controls) included 70 patients with intact neurology. Motor deficit was defined as the occurrence of motor power ≤3/5 in L2–S1 myotomes. Multiple clinical and radiological parameters were studied between the two groups.


Patients with diabetes (p 0.004), acute onset of symptoms (p 0.036), L3–4 discs (p 0.001), sequestrated discs (p 0.004), superiorly migrated discs (p 0.012) and central discs (p 0.004), greater antero-posterior disc dimension (p 0.023), primary canal stenosis (p 0.0001); and greater canal compromise (p 0.002) had a significant correlation with the development of neurological deficit. The presence of four or more of these risk factors showed a higher chance of the presence of motor deficit (sensitivity of 74%, specificity of 77%). Age, sex, previous precipitating events, severity of pain, smoking, and number of herniations levels did not affect the occurrence of deficit (p > 0.05 for all). Patients with or without bladder symptoms were similar with respect to all clinico-radiological parameters. However, the time delay since the occurrence of deficit was significantly shorter in patients with bladder involvement (p 0.001).


Patients with diabetes, acute presentation, central, sequestrated and superiorly migrated discs, high lumbar disc prolapse, and greater spinal canal compromise are predisposed to the presence of motor deficit.

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Funding was provide by Ganga Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, Coimbatore, India.

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Correspondence to Shanmuganathan Rajasekaran.

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The study was approved by the institutional review board. The study was conducted in accordance with 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Krishnan, V., Rajasekaran, S., Aiyer, S.N. et al. Clinical and radiological factors related to the presence of motor deficit in lumbar disc prolapse: a prospective analysis of 70 consecutive cases with neurological deficit. Eur Spine J 26, 2642–2649 (2017).

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  • Lumbar disc prolapse
  • Neurodeficit
  • Clinico-radiological factors
  • Recovery
  • Prognosis