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Measuring surgery success

BruceBBruce Posts: 516
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:21 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
There has been very recent discussion here on 'surgical success'. One thing that I grappled with during my treatment, and particularly in regard to following my laminectomy and fusion surgery was how to measure the success (or otherwise) of the treatment.

My surgeon followed the way the vast majority of spine surgeon measure the success of fusion surgery and that was to determine (by x-ray) how well my bone had fused. Those here who have had a fusion and have had complications and/or are still in pain will appreciate that how well the fused joint has fused can bear little resemblance to how well you feel following surgery - a fundamental flaw in the spinal medical profession's approach to patient wellbeing.

Early in my recovery I came across the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI)when trying to find other means better qualitatively or quantitatively measure success from the angle of how well the patient is actually feeling.

ODI: http://www.chirogeek.com/001_Oswestry_20.htm

Of course, the ODI has been around for a while and some spine surgeons and spine specialists will use it but it seems that a lot don't, and mine certainly does not.

I think the ODI is an excellent tool for measuring one's disability at any time and, in particular, to use it during your recovery in order to determine your progress.

I used it during my recovery and my results were:

prior to surgery 58% (severe disability is considered (50% to 68%)
7 months post fusion surgery but prior to hardware removal surgery 20%

2 weeks after hardware removal surgery 10%

19 months after fusion surgery and 12 months after hardware removal surgery (i.e. now) 2%.

The following website (chirogeek) also refers to two other methods for measuring patient disability but I have no experience in these http://www.chirogeek.com/001_Oswestry-Disability-level.htm

Hope this helps someone.


Keep positive!


...an old timer here and ex-moderator



  • Thanks Bruce. MY ODI prior to fusion was 52% (Severe catagory). 15 months after fusion, my ODI is 10%. I scored the worst on the "standing" section.

    Emergency surgery in March of 2006 for spinal infection of L 2 and L 3. During surgery, discovered I had Cauda Equina Syndrome. Spine became unstable after surgery and had 360 fusion with 10 pedicle screws, plates and rods in April of 2007.
  • I love this link!!!


    p.s. can we 'sticky' this link somehow? Are 'stickies' possbible on this new site?

    It would be great to have a post with 'evaluate your disability level' links.
  • Bruce - I know you have posted this before, but I temporarily lost it and am so happy to see it again. Thanks, Terri
  • I really like that link but when I try to share it with others I'm not allowed. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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