Prospective follow-up study.
The aim of this study was to assess if depressive symptoms change the outcome of lumbar spine fusion (LSF) surgery at a 5-year follow-up.
Previous reports of the influence of depressive symptoms on the results of spine surgery are controversial, but the patient characteristics and indications for surgery varied widely between the studies. The influence of depressive symptoms on the 5-year outcome of LSF has not been studied.
The study was based on data from a local LSF database from 2 hospitals comprising 392 consecutive patients (mean age 61 years, 277 women) who underwent an instrumented LSF and fulfilled the 5-year follow-up. At the 5-year follow-up, the patients were compared with a control group from the general population (n = 477, age, sex and residential area matched) extracted from Official Statistics of Finland. The prevalence of depressive symptoms was evaluated using the Depression Scale (DEPS; 0-30) and disability was evaluated by the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI; 0-100%). A DEPS score ≥ 12 was considered to indicate depressive symptoms.
Before surgery, 35% of the patients had depressive symptoms. The proportion diminished to 13% at 3 months postoperatively and increased to 24% at 5 years. In the population, the prevalence was 11% at baseline and 10% at the 5-year follow-up. The preoperative ODI was 54 in the patients with depressive symptoms, and it was 41 in the patients with no depressive symptoms. The changes at 5-year follow-up were -20 and -18, correspondingly. The same congruence was preserved when analyzing short and long fusions separately. These changes were statistically and clinically significant. In the control population, the ODI remained around 24 in depressive people and 10 in non-depressive people.
Our data suggest that patients with and without depressive symptoms may benefit equally well from LSF.