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Subjective Measures Inform Success of Back Surgery

Patient quality of life is an important outcome to be measured

FRIDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- While objective measures are commonly used to gauge the success of surgery for lumbar canal stenosis, several subjective measures can gauge patient satisfaction and should be used in evaluating surgical outcomes, according to an article published in the March/April issue of the Spine Journal.

Hirotaka Haro, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Yamanashi in Yamanashi, Japan, and colleagues compared preoperative and 24-month postoperative measures of surgical outcomes in 42 patients who underwent surgical decompression for degenerative lumbar canal stenosis. These included objective measures like Japanese Orthopedic Association (JOA) scores for low back pain, and subjective measures assessing quality of life such as the Short-Form 36 (SF-36), the Oswestry disability index (ODI) and the visual analog scale (VAS) for pain.

In the sample of patients, all JOA, SF-36v2, ODI-v2 and VAS scores improved significantly after surgery. The ODI reflected patients' subjective symptoms, correlating well with VAS scores. The SF-36 was particularly informative because it included questions on both psychological and physical status.

"Most studies concerning surgical outcomes do not address patients' subjective evaluations of their recovery. Inclusion of these assessments, however, is becoming increasingly important particularly because many procedures are performed to improve quality of life," the authors write.

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