I'm planning to have a spinal fusion at L34 for a chronic disc problem. Is there any way to tell in advance if I'll have a good result? Isn't there a personality test they say works for this?

There are several surveys used to measure physical and mental function before and after medical treatment. One in common use is called the SF-36 Short Form.

This survey has eight areas to assess health. These areas include how patients view their general health, physical function, and mental health. Pain, quality of life, and social function are also measured.

A recent study of 57 patients with single-level spinal fusion was reported. All had chronic disc-related back pain. Results of the SF-36 showed a definite link between mental status before surgery and results after. The SF-36 might be considered a good way to predict outcome based on mental status.

Researchers have used the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) to predict the results of back surgery. This test takes several hours to complete compared to 20 minutes for the SF-36.

Talk to your doctor about your interest in this area. A referral to a psychologist or social worker may be a good idea for you.