ANCHOR LEAD: TWO NEW STUDIES HELP DECIDE WHO SHOULD HAVE BACK SURGERY, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Most people will have back problems at some point in their lifetime, but deciding who should have surgery and who shouldn’t has been problematic. Two studies in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine may help. Kieran Murphy, an expert in back problem interventions at Johns Hopkins, offers his opinion.
MURPHY: These recently published papers tell us what we know already. Patients at severe risk of long term neurological injury benefit from surgery, patients with moderate risk or mild risk benefit more from conservative management. Each day when confronted by patients like this we try to pick the appropriate therapy for them. We do not view all patients as requiring the same management. It is important not to see this disease as a product line, and to try to pick the appropriate strategy for each patient. :28
Murphy urges those considering back surgery to seek a second and perhaps a third opinion. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.