Surgical versus non-surgical treatment of chronic low back pain: a meta-analysis of randomised trials.
Int Orthop. 2008 Feb;32(1):107-13
Authors: Ibrahim T, Tleyjeh IM, Gabbar O
We performed a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials to investigate the effectiveness of surgical fusion for the treatment of chronic low back pain compared to non-surgical intervention. Several electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Science Citation Index) were searched from 1966 to 2005. The meta-analysis comparison was based on the mean difference in Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) change from baseline to the specified follow-up of patients undergoing surgical versus non-surgical treatment. Of the 58 articles identified, three studies were eligible for primary analysis and one study for sensitivity analysis, with a total of 634 patients. The pooled mean difference in ODI between the surgical and non-surgical groups was in favour of surgery (mean difference of ODI: 4.13, 95%CI: -0.82 to 9.08, p = 0.10, I(2) = 44.4%). Surgical treatment was associated with a 16% pooled rate of early complication (95%CI: 12-20, I(2) = 0%). Surgical fusion for chronic low back pain favoured a marginal improvement in the ODI compared to non-surgical intervention. This difference in ODI was not statistically significant and is of minimal clinical importance. Surgery was found to be associated with a significant risk of complications. Therefore, the cumulative evidence at the present time does not support routine surgical fusion for the treatment of chronic low back pain.
PMID: 17119962 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]