One Survey Fits All
How do we know if back surgery is the right choice? Take microdiscectomy, for example. Microdiscectomy is the removal of disc material from between two vertebrae. In microdiscectomy, a needle is guided by X-ray into the disc space. The damaged part of the disc, including outer and inner layers, is removed.

There are many ways to define and measure success. Researchers at the University of Vienna (Austria) gave 809 back patients some simple questions to answer. A scale called the Prolo Functional Economic Outcome Rating Scale was used. Results were rated from two (poor) to 10 (best).

As the name suggests, the survey looks at functional, social, and economic status. Questions are asked about pain, physical and social activities, and return to work. The Prolo Scale is getting increased attention by surgeons. It has a simple rating scale that doctors can use to judge outcome.

The authors of this study say that having one scale to use in all studies of the same kind would be very helpful. They used the Prolo scale with microdiscectomy patients. The operation is shown to be a low-risk treatment method with good results.

According to these researchers, a scale like this could be used to judge the outcome of other spinal operations, making comparison between different methods of treatment easier.
A. Schoeggl, et al. Functional and Economic Outcome Following Microdiscectomy for Lumbar Disc Herniation in 672 Patients. In Journal of Spinal Disorders. April 2003. Vol. 16. No. 2. Pp. 150-155.