The percentage of orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons who fail to perform routine psychological screenings of patients before major surgery for severe back and leg pain, according to a study led by Hopkins’ Richard Skolasky. The oversight, researchers say, may pose a serious risk to patients’ surgical recovery. Previous reports have tied bouts of depression to longer recuperations, delayed returns to work, more postsurgical complications, and failures to comply with medication schedules after patients leave the hospital.
“Our survey results show that surgeons and patients still have a long way to go in recognizing and appreciating how much psychological factors and mental health can impact the success of their back surgeries,” says Skolasky, the senior study investigator. “It may be necessary to delay surgery in order to first treat a patient’s depression or anxiety to minimize the likelihood of prolonged recuperation after their operation.” The study appeared in the April issue of the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Techniques.