Retrospective review of prospectively collected data.
The objective of this study was to determine how different combinations of preoperative back pain (BP) and leg pain (LP) may influence functional outcomes, patient satisfaction and return to work (RTW) in patients undergoing minimally invasive transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (MIS-TLIF) for degenerative spondylolisthesis.
Summary of Background Data:
Surgical decision-making is often based on the traditional assumption that the predominance of lower extremity symptoms is a stronger indication for lumbar spine surgery. Surprisingly, there is a paucity of literature supporting this notion and the isolated impact of the preoperative pattern of pain on outcome remains unclear.
Prospectively collected data for patients who underwent primary MIS-TLIF for degenerative spondylolisthesis were reviewed. Patients were categorized into 3 groups depending on predominant pain location: LP predominant (LP>BP), back pain predominant [(BPP); BP>LP] and equal pain predominance (BP=LP). Patients were prospectively followed for at least 2 years.
In total, 781 patients were included: 33.4% LP predominant, 28.7% BPP and 37.9% equal pain predominance cases. The BPP group was significantly younger (P=0.005) and showed a trend towards poorer baseline Short-Form-36 Mental Component Summary (P=0.069). After adjusting for baseline differences, there was no significant difference in BP, LP, Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), SF-36 Physical Component Summary, and SF-36 Mental Component Summary between the 3 groups at all time points (P>0.05) except for poorer 1-month ODI in the BPP group (P=0.010). The rate of minimal clinically important difference attainment for ODI and SF-36 Physical Component Summary, satisfaction, expectation fulfilment and RTW were also similar (P>0.05).
The functional outcomes, quality of life and satisfaction after MIS-TLIF were similar, regardless of the predominant pain location. Equal proportions of patients achieved the minimal clinically important difference and RTW. In the context of proper indications, these results suggest that MIS-TLIF can be equally effective for patients with varying combinations of BP or LP.
Level of Evidence:
Level III—nonrandomized cohort study.