The November 22/29, 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association publishes the results of SPORT, a multi-million dollar, federally funded, multi-center, prospective, randomized controlled trial designed to investigate the efficacy of surgery for sciatica due to lumbar disc herniation. The study concluded that patients who elected surgery for painful lumbar disc herniation had significant and rapid relief of leg pain (sciatica). Patients who were treated with surgery had in general more severe symptoms than those treated without surgery, and had substantial and early improvements that were greater than those noted in patients who received nonoperative treatment. There were very few complications in either group, demonstrating the safety of both operative and nonoperative management.
In response to this publication, Charles Branch Jr., MD, chair of the AANS/CNS Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves states, “We are delighted that this major scientific study affirms the value of high quality surgical care in the relief of disabling painful disc herniations of the lumbar spine. Our patients have depended upon us as surgeons to provide them with beneficial surgical care and with good advice regarding how best to treat a painful lumbar disc herniation. This study affirms that we can continue to give our patients advice for surgical or nonsurgical care based upon their individual medical condition and needs.”