Long-term back pain after a single-level discectomy for radiculopathy: incidence and health care cost analysis.

The Johns Hopkins Spinal Column Biomechanics and Surgical Outcomes Laboratory, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Journal of neurosurgery. Spine (Impact Factor: 1.61). 02/2010; 12(2):178-82. DOI: 10.3171/2009.9.SPINE09410
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The most common spinal procedure performed in the US is lumbar discectomy for disc herniation. Longterm disc degeneration and height loss occur in many patients after lumbar discectomy. The incidence of mechanical back pain following discectomy varies widely in the literature, and its associated health care costs are unknown. The authors set out to determine the incidence of and the health care costs associated with mechanical back pain attributed to segmental degeneration or instability at the level of a prior discectomy performed at their institution.
The authors retrospectively reviewed the data for 111 patients who underwent primary, single-level lumbar hemilaminotomy and discectomy for radiculopathy. All diagnostic modalities, conservative therapies, and operative treatments used for the management of postdisectomy back pain were recorded. Institutional billing and accounting records were reviewed to determine the billed costs of all diagnostic and therapeutic measures.
At a mean follow-up of 37.3 months after primary discectomy, 75 patients (68%) experienced minimal to no back pain, 26 (23%) had moderate back pain requiring conservative treatment only, and 10 (9%) suffered severe back pain that required a subsequent fusion surgery at the site of the primary discectomy. The mean cost per patient for conservative treatment alone was $4696. The mean cost per patient for operative treatment was $42,554. The estimated cost of treatment for mechanical back pain associated with postoperative same-level degeneration or instability was $493,383 per 100 cases of first-time, single-level lumbar discectomy ($4934 per primary discectomy).
Postoperative mechanical back pain associated with same-level degeneration is not uncommon in patients undergoing single-level lumbar discectomy and is associated with substantial health care costs.

1 Bookmark
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Lumbar discectomy is the surgical procedure most frequently performed for patients suffering from low back pain and sciatica. Disc herniation as a consequence of degenerative or traumatic processes is commonly encountered as the underlying cause for the painful condition. While discectomy provides favourable outcome in a majority of cases, there are conditions where unmet requirements exist in terms of treatment, such as large disc protrusions with minimal disc degeneration; in these cases, the high rate of recurrent disc herniation after discectomy is a prevalent problem. An effective biological annular repair could improve the surgical outcome in patients with contained disc herniations but otherwise minor degenerative changes. An attractive approach is a tissue-engineered implant that will enable/stimulate the repair of the ruptured annulus. The strategy is to develop three-dimensional scaffolds and activate them by seeding cells or by incorporating molecular signals that enable new matrix synthesis at the defect site, while the biomaterial provides immediate closure of the defect and maintains the mechanical properties of the disc. This review is structured into (1) introduction, (2) clinical problems, current treatment options and needs, (3) biomechanical demands, (4) cellular and extracellular components, (5) biomaterials for delivery, scaffolding and support, (6) pre-clinical models for evaluation of newly developed cell- and material-based therapies, and (7) conclusions. This article highlights that an interdisciplinary approach is necessary for successful development of new clinical methods for annulus fibrosus repair. This will benefit from a close collaboration between research groups with expertise in all areas addressed in this review.
    European cells & materials 01/2013; 25:1-21. · 4.56 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract This was a retrospective database analysis (2001-2009) of employees' medical, prescription drug, and absence costs and days from sick leave, short- and long-term disability, and workers' compensation. Employees with an ICD-9 diagnostic code for back or neck pain and an ICD-9 for a back- or neck-related neuropathic condition (eg, myelopathy, compression of the spinal cord, neuritis, radiculitis) or radiculopathy were considered to have nociceptive back or neck pain with a neuropathic component. Employees with an ICD-9 for back pain or neck pain and no ICD-9 for a back- or neck-related neuropathic condition or radiculopathy were defined to have nociceptive back or neck pain. Patients with nociceptive back or neck pain with a neuropathic component were classified as having or not having prior nociceptive pain. Annual costs (medical and prescription drug costs and absence costs) and days from sick leave, short- and long-term disability, and workers' compensation were evaluated. Mean annual total costs were highest ($8512) for nociceptive pain with a neuropathic component with prior nociceptive pain (n=9162 employees), $7126 for nociceptive pain with a neuropathic component with no prior nociceptive pain (n=5172), $5574 for nociceptive pain only (n=35,347), and $3017 for control employees with no back or neck pain diagnosis (n=226,683). Medical, short-term disability, and prescription drugs yielded the highest incremental costs compared to controls. Mean total absence days/year were 8.26, 7.86, 5.70, and 3.44, respectively. The economic burden of back pain or neck pain is increased when associated with a neuropathic component. (Population Health Management 2014;xx:xxx-xxx).
    Population Health Management 03/2014; · 1.18 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Object Following microdiscectomy, discs generally fail to undergo spontaneous regeneration and patients may experience chronic low-back pain and recurrent disc prolapse. In published studies, formulations of mesenchymal progenitor cells combined with pentosan polysulfate (MPCs+PPS) have been shown to regenerate disc tissue in animal models, suggesting that this approach may provide a useful adjunct to microdiscectomy. The goal of this preclinical laboratory study was to determine if the transplantation of MPCs+PPS, embedded in a gelatin/fibrin scaffold (SCAF), and transplanted into a defect created by microdiscectomy, could promote disc regeneration. Methods A standardized microdiscectomy procedure was performed in 18 ovine lumbar discs. The subsequent disc defects were randomized to receive either no treatment (NIL), SCAF only, or the MPC+PPS formulation added to SCAF (MPCs+PPS+SCAF). Necropsies were undertaken 6 months postoperatively and the spines analyzed radiologically (radiography and MRI), biochemically, and histologically. Results No adverse events occurred throughout the duration of the study. The MPC+PPS+SCAF group had significantly less reduction in disc height compared with SCAF-only and NIL groups (p < 0.05 and p < 0.01, respectively). Magnetic resonance imaging Pfirrmann scores in the MPC+PPS+SCAF group were significantly lower than those in the SCAF group (p = 0.0213). The chaotropic solvent extractability of proteoglycans from the nucleus pulposus of MPC+PPS+SCAF-treated discs was significantly higher than that from the SCAF-only discs (p = 0.0312), and using gel exclusion chromatography, extracts from MPC+PPS+SCAF-treated discs also contained a higher percentage of proteoglycan aggregates than the extracts from both other groups. Analysis of the histological sections showed that 66% (p > 0.05) of the MPC+PPS+SCAF-treated discs exhibited less degeneration than the NIL or SCAF discs. Conclusions These findings demonstrate the capacity of MPCs in combination with PPS, when embedded in a gelatin sponge and sealed with fibrin glue in a microdiscectomy defect, to restore disc height, disc morphology, and nucleus pulposus proteoglycan content.
    Journal of neurosurgery. Spine 04/2014; · 1.61 Impact Factor