European Spine Journal

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 442–449 | Cite as

Postoperative bracing after lumbar surgery: a survey amongst spinal surgeons in Belgium

  • Liedewij BogaertEmail author
  • Peter Van Wambeke
  • Tinne Thys
  • Thijs Willem Swinnen
  • Wim Dankaerts
  • Simon Brumagne
  • Lieven Moke
  • Koen Peers
  • Bart Depreitere
  • Lotte Janssens
Original Article



Bracing is frequently prescribed following lumbar surgery for degenerative conditions. However, previous studies failed to demonstrate the advantage of postoperative lumbar bracing in both short- and long-term outcome in terms of pain, quality of life and fusion rate. The purpose of this study was to assess the prescription patterns and rationale for postoperative bracing amongst spinal surgeons in Belgium.


A 16-item online survey was distributed by email to spinal surgeons affiliated to the Spine Society of Belgium (N = 252).


A total of 105 surgeons (42%) completed the survey. The overall bracing frequency following lumbar surgery was 38%. A brace was more often prescribed following the fusion procedures (52%) than after the non-fusion procedures (21%) (p < 0.0001). The majority of surgeons (59%) considered bracing after at least one type of lumbar surgery. Orthopaedic surgeons (73%) reported a significantly higher rate of prescribing postoperative bracing compared to neurosurgeons (44%) (p = 0.003). Pain alleviation (67%) was the main goal for prescribing a postoperative brace. A total of 42% of the surgeons aimed to improve fusion rate by bracing after lumbar fusion procedures. A quasi-equal level of the scientific literature (29%), personal experience (35%) and teaching from peers (36%) was reported to contribute on the attitudes towards prescribing bracing.


Postoperative bracing was prescribed by Belgian spinal surgeons following more than one-third of lumbar procedures. This was underpinned by beliefs regarding pain alleviation and higher fusion rate. Interestingly, based on the scientific literature these beliefs have been demonstrated to be false.

Graphical abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.


Orthosis Postoperative period Practice pattern Spine Low back pain 



The authors declare no conflict of interest in the study. This work was supported by the University Hospitals Leuven and KU Leuven. The funders have no conflict of interest in the study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript and in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

Supplementary material

586_2018_5837_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1197 kb)
586_2018_5837_MOESM2_ESM.pptx (209 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PPTX 208 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Physical Medicine and RehabilitationUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Division of RheumatologyUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.KU Leuven - Department of Rehabilitation SciencesKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  4. 4.Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center, Department of Development and RegenerationKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  5. 5.Institute for Orthopaedic Research and Training (IORT), Department of Development and RegenerationKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  6. 6.Division of OrthopaedicsUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  7. 7.Division of NeurosurgeryUniversity Hospitals LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  8. 8.Reval Rehabilitation Research CenterHasselt UniversityDiepenbeekBelgium

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