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The Society for Back Pain Research (SBPR) Annual General Meeting: ‘Spotlight on sciatica’


Purposes of the study and background

The objective of this overview was to evaluate the available evidence from systematic reviews on the effectiveness of surgical interventions for sciatica due to disc herniation. The last search was conducted in 2011. Since then new reviews have been published or existing reviews have been updated.

Summary of the methods used and results

A comprehensive search was performed in multiple databases including Cochrane database of systematic reviews (CDSR), Database of Reviews of Effectiveness (DARE) and Pubmed. Included are Cochrane and non-Cochrane systematic reviews on sciatica due to disc herniation published in peer-reviewed journals. We evaluated surgery versus conservative care and different surgical techniques compared to one another. The methodological quality of the systematic reviews was evaluated using AMSTAR by two independent reviewers. Nine, mostly high quality, systematic reviews on surgical interventions for disc herniation were included. Four reviews compared surgery with conservative treatment and concluded consistently that surgery has only short term benefits while the long term results showed no difference in effect. Four reviews compared open discectomy with micro(endo)scopic discectomy and found no significant and/or clinically relevant differences. The quality of evidence on alternative minimal invasive techniques (laser discectomy, automated percutaneous discectomy, and nucleoplasty or coblation) is consistently low in four recent reviews.


Although the quality of the reviews was quite acceptable, the quality of the included studies was mostly poor. The choice between surgical techniques and surgery and conservative intervention should be based on surgeon and patient preferences, among other things.


No conflicts of interest

No funding has been obtained

This abstract has not previously been presented or published in whole or substantial part.