Surgery versus Conservative Care for Persistent #Sciatica Lasting 4 to 12 Months

..Among the patients assigned to undergo surgery, the median time from randomization to surgery was 3.1 weeks; of the 64 patients in the nonsurgical group, 22 (34%) crossed over to undergo surgery at a median of 11 months after enrollment. At baseline, the mean score for leg-pain intensity was 7.7 in the surgical group and 8.0 in the nonsurgical group. The primary outcome of the leg-pain intensity score at 6 months was 2.8 in the surgical group and 5.2 in the nonsurgical group (adjusted mean difference, 2.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.4 to 3.4; P<0.001). Secondary outcomes including the score on the Owestry Disability Index and pain at 12 months were in the same direction as the primary outcome. Nine patients had adverse events associated with surgery, and one patient underwent repeat surgery for recurrent disk herniation.

In this single-center trial involving patients with sciatica lasting more than 4 months and caused by lumbar disk herniation, microdiskectomy was superior to nonsurgical care with respect to pain intensity at 6 months of follow-up.