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Sex Differences on Postoperative Pain and Disability Following Minimally Invasive Lumbar Discectomy

Patel, Dil V. BS; Yoo, Joon S. BA; Karmarkar, Sailee S. BS; Lamoutte, Eric H. BS; Singh, Kern MD

doi: 10.1097/BSD.0000000000000848
Primary Research

Study Design: Retrospective cohort.

Objective: To determine if sex is associated with differences in postoperative pain scores, narcotic consumption, and long-term improvements in pain and disability following minimally invasive lumbar discectomy (MIS LD).

Summary of Background Data: There exists a question as to what extent sex influences surgical and clinical outcomes following MIS LD.

Methods: Patients undergoing primary, single-level MIS LD were retrospectively reviewed and stratified on the basis of sex. Immediate postoperative Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain scores and narcotic consumption were collected. Patient-reported outcomes, including Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 12-Item Short-Form- (SF-12) Physical Component Score, and VAS back and leg pain, were collected preoperatively and at 6-week, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month follow-up. Sex differences were tested for an association between immediate postoperative pain, narcotics utilization, and long-term improvements in patient-reported outcomes using linear regression.

Results: A total of 188 patients were included and 62.8% were male individuals. At the time of surgery, female individuals were older than male individuals (P=0.045). There were no observed differences in other demographic or perioperative characteristics between cohorts. Female individuals had similar inpatient VAS pain scores and narcotic consumption compared with male individuals. Female individuals had a higher ODI score than male individuals preoperatively, however, both cohorts had similar improvements in ODI at all postoperative time points. Both sexes had similar VAS back and leg pain and SF-12 PCS scores preoperatively and at all postoperative time points.

Conclusions: Our study demonstrated that sex does not affect immediate postoperative pain, narcotic consumption, and long-term recovery following MIS LD. Female individuals demonstrated similar preoperative back and pain scores compared with male individuals but reported greater disability before surgery. However, both sexes experienced similar improvements in pain and disability at all follow-up time points through 12 months. The results of this study may enable providers to better counsel patients regarding the expected improvement in pain and disability.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Reprints: Kern Singh, MD, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, 1611 W. Harrison St, Suite No. 300, Chicago, IL 60612 (e-mail:

Received October 31, 2018

Accepted April 19, 2019

© 2019 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.