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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2005 Jul;87(7):959-64.

Health-related quality of life in patients before and after surgery for a herniated lumbar disc.

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  • 1Department of Orthopaedics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


We investigated the pre-operative and one-year post-operative health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcome by using a Euroqol (EQ-5D) questionnaire in 263 patients who had undergone surgery for herniation of a lumbar disc. Data from the National Swedish Register for lumbar spinal surgery between 2001 and 2002 were used and, in addition, a comparison between our cohort and a Swedish EQ-5D population survey was performed. We analysed the pre- and post-operative quality of life data, age, gender, smoking habits, pain and walking capacity. The mean age of the patients was 42 years (20 to 66); 155 (59%) were men and 69 (26%) smoked. Pre-operatively, 72 (17%) could walk at least 1 km compared with 200 (76%) postoperatively. The mean EQ-5D score improved from 0.29 to 0.70, and the HRQOL improved in 195 (74%) of the patients. The pre-operative score did not influence the post-operative score. In most patients, all five EQ-5D dimensions improved, but did not reach the level reported by an age- and gender-matched population sample (mean difference 0.17). Predictors for poor outcome were smoking, a short pre-operative walking distance, and a long history of back pain.

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