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Spinal fusion surgery study points to patient benefits

Medtronic : 01 June, 2007  (New Product)
Medtronic has welcomed the results of a recent study that found Medicare patients suffering from degenerative spondylolisthesis with spinal stenosis showed greater improvement when treated surgically versus non-surgically.
The results were part of the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT), a study conducted at 11 sites across the USA and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Results of this five year, multi-centre study were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) showing that spinal fusion surgery benefited Medicare-aged patients suffering from degenerative spondylolisthesis with spinal stenosis.

Earlier results, also establishing the success of spinal surgery involving middle-aged patients with intervertebral disc herniations, were published in 2006.

The $13.5 million study showed that Medicare patients suffering from degenerative spondylolisthesis with spinal stenosis treated surgically showed substantially greater improvement in pain and function scores than patients who were treated non-surgically.

While both the surgical and non-surgical patients showed improvement, the non-surgical patients showed only a moderate improvement while the surgical patients showed a substantial improvement.

SPORT was designed to compare three different indications using either surgery or non-operative care for patients with intervertebral disc herniation, spinal stenosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis.

The NEJM article follows an article on SPORT published in November 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which reported that younger patients (average age 42) who had surgery fared better than non-surgical patients when it came to treating disc herniation.

Overall, 607 patients were enrolled in the study of degenerative spondylolisthesis with spinal stenosis.

Of these patients, 304 were in the randomized study population group (cohort), while 303 were in the observational cohort.
The average age of these patients was 66 years.

In a series of patient self-assessment questionnaires, surgical patients showed statistically significant improvements in bodily pain, function and disability measurements over patients who underwent non-surgical options.

'As a surgeon participating in the study, I was pleased to see the results that confirm spinal fusion surgery is superior to non-surgical treatment in relieving symptoms and improving function for many older patients', said Jeffrey Goldstein, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases.

'When other treatments fail, modern spinal surgery is a great option for patients suffering with back and leg pain'.

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