What measurement means for lumbar fusion surgery

Lumbar fusion surgery is an option to treat low back pain caused by motion. Lumbar fusion surgery joins, or fuses, painful vertebrae in the lower spine so they heal into a single bone. The goal of lumbar fusion surgery is to improve pain, function and mobility so you can continue with daily activities such as sitting, standing and walking.

The recommended approach to assessing patients with low back problems and pain, as well as measuring success of lumbar fusion surgery for those patients, is the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) tool before and after surgery. High rates of patients completing this survey can be a sign of strong clinic performance in measuring the effectiveness of surgery.

The Lumbar Fusion Surgery: Assessing Symptoms measure reports how many patients answered questions about their back problems before and after lumbar fusion surgery.

The statewide rate of using the ODI tool to assess patients before and after surgery by all reporting medical groups is 43%. This means 43 of 100 patients who had lumbar fusion surgery completed a survey about their pack pain, function and mobility before surgery and one year after surgery.

It’s important to know that small differences in scores don’t necessarily reflect the quality of care you’ll receive with a specific medical group. It is more important to note large differences between providers, and speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Don’t see your medical group listed? While some of the medical groups in Minnesota that provided data for this measure didn’t have enough patients to have valid, reportable results, other medical groups chose not to submit data at all. For consumers, this means that some important information is missing that would help you have a better understanding of the outcomes from this surgery.

How we calculate the measure

We measure how many patients completed a survey called the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) before and one year after surgery. The ODI asks 10 questions about back pain, function and mobility. Herniated disc surgery patients are asked to complete the tool before surgery and after surgery.

This report is based on surgeries performed from January 1 to December 31, 2013. This information is collected under the measure name Assessing Symptoms: Lumbar Fusion Surgery.