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J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2001 Jan;83(1):19-21.

The distress and risk assessment method (DRAM).

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Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust and the Orthopaedic Research Unit, University of Cambridge, England, UK.


Our aim was to judge the influence of preoperative psychological disturbance on the outcome of lumbar discectomy. We evaluated 66 patients, before and after operation, using a self-administered questionnaire. Disability was assessed using the Oswestry disability index and psychological disturbance the Distress and Risk Assessment Method (DRAM) score. Patients were classified as normal, at risk or distressed, and the outcome of surgery in the three groups was compared at a follow-up of six months. The mean self-reported preoperative disability was significantly higher in those with psychological disturbance. A total of 54 patients (82%) returned completed postoperative questionnaires. Postoperative disability scores at six months were not significantly different in the three risk groups. Psychological disturbance improved after surgery. Our study suggests that the early outcome of lumbar discectomy is not affected by preoperative psychological disturbance. We conclude that a patient with a symptomatic prolapsed intervertebral disc should not be denied surgery on the basis of preoperative psychological assessment.

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