By: 11 June 2012

What if a spine surgeon could predict patient outcomes by doing a simple, pre-op psychological test? A longitudinal study published in the March 2012 issue of The Spine Journal has put that theory to the test.

In “Preoperative Zung Depression Scale Predicts Outcome After Revision Lumbar Surgery for Adjacent Segment Disease, Recurrent Stenosis and Pseudoarthrosis,” the authors conclude that the extent of preoperative depression is an independent predictor of functional outcome after revision lumbar surgery for pseudarthrosis, recurrent stenosis and adjacent segment disease (ASD).

One hundred fifty patients undergoing revision neural decompression and instrumented fusion for ASD (n550), pseudarthrosis (n547), or same-level recurrent stenosis (n553) were included in this study. A Preoperative Zung Self-Reported Depression Scale score was assessed for all patients. Preoperative and two-year postoperative visual analog scale for back pain and leg pain scores and Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) were assessed. The association between preoperative Zung Depression Scale score and two-year improvement in disability was assessed via multivariate regression analysis.

Compared to preoperative status, a score on the visual analog scale for back pain (VAS-BP) was significantly improved two years after surgery for ASD (8.7261.85 vs. 3.9262.84, p5.001), pseudoarthrosis (7.3160.81 vs. 5.0662.64, p5.001), and same-level recurrent stenosis (9.2861.00 vs. 5.0062.94, p5.001). Two-year ODI was also significantly improved after surgery for ASD (28.7269.64 vs. 18.48611.31, p5.001), pseudoarthrosis (29.7465.35 vs. 25.4266.00, p5.001), and same-level recurrent stenosis (36.0166.00 vs. 21.75612.07, p5.001). Independent of age, BMI, symptom duration, smoking, comorbidities and level of preoperative pain and disability, increasing preoperative Zung depression score was significantly associated with less two-year improvement in disability (ODI) after revision surgery for ASD, pseudoarthrosis and recurrent stenosis.

Based on their results, the authors suggest that future comparative effectiveness studies assessing outcomes after revision lumbar surgery should account for depression as a potential confounder. Also, the Zung depression questionnaire may help risk-stratify patients presenting for revision lumbar surgery.

Drs. Carragee and Telles indicate that they would like to see additional research into whether patients who have depression would benefit from preoperative and postoperative psychological interventions, including social, pharmacological or psychological treatment.

Source: The Spine Journal