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Lower Spine News

Emotional Distress Negatively Affects Patients After Spinal Fusion

Researchers often use a survey called the SF-36 to measure results of medical treatment. In this study the SF-36 is used for the first time in patients with chronic low back pain (LBP). Each one of the 57 patients had a single-level spinal fusion.

The study was focused on finding out if the patients' psychological or emotional status before surgery affected the results of their treatment. The survey measured physical and mental function. It also showed how the patients saw their own health.

The authors report a real link between mental status before surgery and results after. Lower mental health scores were connected to poor overall outcomes. Likewise patients with higher mental health scores had greater physical function. Results were measured one and two years after surgery.

The results of this study suggest a patient's mental health before surgery can predict the outcome of spinal fusion. Surgeons might want to use the SF-36 with patients who have chronic disc-related LBP before spinal fusion surgery.


Richard Derby, MD, et al. Single-Level Lumbar Fusion in Chronic Discogenic Low-Back Pain: Psychological and Emotional Status as a Predictor of Outcome Measured Using the 36-Item Short Form. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. October 2005. Vol. 3. No. 4. Pp. 255-261.

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