Settling the debate on need for spinal surgery

February 23rd, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 23 (IANS) In a dilemma over opting for surgery to treat your spine condition? Here’s a new study that will help you make up your mind. The study, by researchers at Rush University Medical Center, found that patients who underwent surgery for spinal stenosis showed more improvement overall than did patients who were treated nonsurgically.

Findings of the study have been published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Spinal stenosis involves a narrowing of a passage in the spine through which nerves pass, and it can result in a debilitating pain in the lower back, hips and legs.

The surgical solution is an operation called laminectomy that enlarges the opening to relieve the pressure on the nerves.

The study followed 654 patients of whom 398 ultimately received decompressive surgery. After two years, 63 percent of those who had surgery said they had a major improvement in their condition, compared with 29 percent among those who received nonsurgical treatment.

In terms of pain and other functions, both groups improved over the two-year period, though the final scores for patient who had surgery were in the 60-point range.

Scores for those who persisted with nonsurgical treatments, such as physical therapy, were in the low 40s.

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