European Spine Journal

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 778–788 | Cite as

EUROSPINE 2017 FULL PAPER AWARD: Time to remove our rose-tinted spectacles: a candid appraisal of the relative success of surgery in over 4500 patients with degenerative disorders of the lumbar spine, hip or knee

  • Anne F. Mannion
  • Franco M. Impellizzeri
  • Michael Leunig
  • Dezsö Jeszenszy
  • Hans-Jürgen Becker
  • Daniel Haschtmann
  • Stefan Preiss
  • Tamas F. Fekete
Original Article



Studies comparing the outcome of spine surgery with that of large-joint replacement report equivocal findings. The patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) used in such studies are typically generic and may not be sufficiently sensitive to the successes/failures of treatment. This study compared different indices of “success” in patients undergoing surgery for degenerative disorders of the lumbar spine, hip, or knee, using a validated, multidimensional, and joint-specific PROM.


Preoperatively and 12 months postoperatively, 4594 patients (3937 lumbar spine, 368 hip, 269 knee) undergoing first-time surgery completed a PROM that included the Core Outcome Measures Index (COMI) for the affected joint. The latter comprises a set of single items on pain, function, symptom-specific well-being, quality of life, and disability—all in relation to the specified joint problem. Other single-item ratings of treatment success were made 12 months postoperatively.


In multiple regression analyses, controlling for confounders, the mean improvement in COMI at 12 months was greatest for the hip patients and lowest for those with degenerative spinal deformity (= the statistical reference group) (p < 0.05). Compared with spinal deformity, the odds of achieving “success” were: higher for hip (OR 4.6; 95% CI 2.5–8.5) and knee (OR 4.0; 95% CI 2.1–7.7) (no difference between spine subgroups) for “satisfaction with care”; higher for hip (OR 16.9; 95% CI 7.3–39.6), knee (OR 6.3; 95% CI 3.4–11.6), degenerative spondylolisthesis (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.2–2.2), and herniated disc (OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.2–2.4) for “global treatment outcome”; and higher for hip (OR 13.8; 95% CI 8.8–21.6), knee (OR 5.3; 95% CI 3.6–7.8), degenerative spondylolisthesis (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.3–2.1), and herniated disc (1.5; 95% CI 1.1–2.0) for “patient-acceptable symptom state”. Patient-rated complications were the greatest in degenerative spinal deformity (29%) and the lowest in hip (18%).


The current study is the largest of its kind and the first to use a common, but joint-specific instrument to report patient-reported outcomes after surgery for degenerative disorders of the spine, hip, or knee. The findings provide a sobering account of the significantly poorer outcomes after spine surgery compared with large-joint replacement. Further work is required to hone the indications and patient selection criteria for spine surgery. The data should be used to lobby research funding-bodies, governmental agencies, industry, and charitable foundations to invest more in spine research/registries, in the hope of ultimately improving spine outcomes.

Graphical abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.


Spine Hip Knee Surgery Outcomes 



We thank all the patients of the Schulthess Klinik who have contributed data to our in-house registry. We thank François Porchet, Frank Kleinstück, and all present and past surgeons working at the Schulthess Klinik Spine Center for their compliance with the surgical forms of the Spine Tango Registry. We thank Dave O’Riordan, Gordana Balaban, Julian Amacker, Kirsten Clift, Sara Preziosa, Stéphanie Dosch, Riccardo Curatolo, Selina Nauer, Danica Mauz, Vanessa Wellhauer, and Myrta Villoz for the administration of the surgical forms and patient-rated outcome measures in our registry and for the preparation of the data files for analysis.


The study was approved by the local ethics committee.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings described in this paper.

Supplementary material

586_2018_5469_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (403 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 403 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne F. Mannion
    • 1
  • Franco M. Impellizzeri
    • 1
  • Michael Leunig
    • 2
  • Dezsö Jeszenszy
    • 3
  • Hans-Jürgen Becker
    • 3
  • Daniel Haschtmann
    • 3
  • Stefan Preiss
    • 2
  • Tamas F. Fekete
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Teaching, Research and DevelopmentSchulthess KlinikZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Hip and Knee SurgerySchulthess KlinikZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Spine Surgery and NeurosurgerySchulthess KlinikZurichSwitzerland

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