Overview of reviews of surgery for low back pain
One article on PainSci cites Jacobs 2013: The Complete Guide to Low Back Pain
PainSci notes on Jacobs 2013:
From the conclusion to this review of studies (and other reviews) of surgeries for back pain: “Although the quality of the reviews was quite acceptable, the quality of the included studies was poor.” So back surgeries have never really been studied properly … but the reviews are quality! Hmm. I’m pretty sure that’s terrible news.
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
PURPOSE: Many systematic reviews have been published on surgical interventions for low back disorders. The objective of this overview was to evaluate the available evidence from systematic reviews on the effectiveness of surgical interventions for disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, stenosis, and degenerative disc disease (DDD). An earlier version of this review was published in 2006 and since then, many new, better quality reviews have been published.
METHODS: A comprehensive search was performed in the Cochrane database of systematic reviews (CDSR), database of reviews of effectiveness (DARE) and Pubmed. Two reviewers independently performed the selection of studies, risk of bias assessment, and data extraction. Included are Cochrane reviews and non-Cochrane systematic reviews published in peer-reviewed journals. The following conditions were included: disc herniation, spondylolisthesis, and DDD with or without spinal stenosis. The following comparisons were evaluated: (1) surgery vs. conservative care, and (2) different surgical techniques compared to one another. The methodological quality of the systematic reviews was evaluated using AMSTAR. We report (pooled) analyses from the individual reviews.
RESULTS: Thirteen systematic reviews on surgical interventions for low back disorders were included for disc herniation (n = 6), spondylolisthesis (n = 2), spinal stenosis (n = 4), and DDD (n = 4). Nine (69 %) were of high quality. Five reviews provided a meta-analysis of which two showed a significant difference. For the treatment of spinal stenosis, intervertebral process devices showed more favorable results compared to conservative treatment on the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire [mean difference (MD) 23.2 95 % CI 18.5-27.8]. For degenerative spondylolisthesis, fusion showed more favorable results compared to decompression for a mixed aggregation of clinical outcome measures (RR 1.40 95 % CI 1.04-1.89) and fusion rate favored instrumented fusion over non-instrumented fusion (RR 1.37 95 % CI 1.07-1.75).
CONCLUSIONS: For most of the comparisons, the included reviews were not significant and/or clinically relevant differences between interventions were identified. Although the quality of the reviews was quite acceptable, the quality of the included studies was poor. Future studies are likely to influence our assessment of these interventions.
- “Doctor Skeptic: Why placebo surgery is ethical, and necessary,” Doctor Skeptic, Doctorskeptic.blogspot.ca.
- “Sham Surgery in Orthopedics: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Louw et al, Pain Med, 2016.
- “To what extent are surgery and invasive procedures effective beyond a placebo response? A systematic review with meta-analysis of randomised, sham controlled trials,” Jonas et al, BMJ Open, 2015.
- “Use of placebo controls in the evaluation of surgery: systematic review,” Wartolowska et al, British Medical Journal, 2014.
- Surgery: The ultimate placebo (book), by Ian Harris (book review).
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Inciting events associated with lumbar disc herniation. Suri 2010 Spine J.
- Prediction of an extruded fragment in lumbar disc patients from clinical presentations. Pople 1994 Spine (Phila Pa 1976).
- Characteristics of patients with low back and leg pain seeking treatment in primary care: baseline results from the ATLAS cohort study. Konstantinou 2015 BMC Musculoskelet Disord.
- Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of universal school-based mindfulness training compared with normal school provision in reducing risk of mental health problems and promoting well-being in adolescence: the MYRIAD cluster randomised controlled trial. Kuyken 2022 Evid Based Ment Health.
- Is there a relationship between throbbing pain and arterial pulsations? Mirza 2012 J Neurosci.