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Spinal Surgeries May Improve Back Pain and Sexual Function

After total disc replacement, posterior fusion, reduction in pain linked to improved sex life

FRIDAY, Dec. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Total disc replacement and posterior fusion both lead to improvements in not only lower back pain but also sexual function, according to a study in the December issue of The Spine Journal.

Svante Berg, M.D., from Löwenströmska Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, and colleagues randomly assigned 152 patients (41 percent men) with chronic low back pain of assumed discogenic origin to total disc replacement or posterior fusion (posterolateral fusion or posterior lumbar interbody fusion).

The researchers found that before surgery, 34 percent of patients said that their sex life caused extra lower back pain, and an additional 30 percent said that their sex life was severely restricted by lower back pain. There was a significant improvement in sex life in both groups after surgery, which was strongly associated with a reduction in lower back pain. After two years, men reported that neither surgery negatively affected erection or retrograde ejaculation. However, more men in the fusion group reported a deterioration in their ability to achieve orgasm (26 versus 3 percent).

"An improvement in sex life after total disc replacement or lumbar fusion was positively correlated to a reduction in lower back pain," Berg and colleagues conclude. "Total disc replacement in this study, performed through an anterior retroperitoneal approach, was not associated with greater sexual dysfunction compared with instrumented lumbar fusion performed either as a posterolateral fusion or as a posterior lumbar interbody fusion."

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