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J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 1996 Jun;25(6):1209-1216. Korean. Original Article.
Lee KS , Doh JW , Bae HG , Yun IG .
Department of Neurosurgery, Soonchunhyang University Chonan Hospital, Chonan, Korea.

The following is our report a series of 220 patients who visited the neurosurgical out-patient department from January 1994 to June 1994 complaining of low back pain. We investigated how they were treated and what was the outcome on December 1995. Three certified neurosurgeons had managed these patients. Although the patients were not significantly different in terms of age, sex, and the duration of pain, the diagnostic methods(p<0.005), impression(p<0.01), and the methods of treatment(p<0.01) differred from doctor to doctor. The rates of admission and operation were 11.8% and 7.3%, respectively, and found to be consistent among doctors. We conducted telephonic interviews of 123 patients during December 1995 with the following outcome : improved in 69.1%, unchanged in 22.0%, and aggravated in 4.1%, together with six(4.9%) deaths. The cause of death was cancer in four cases, respiratory failure in one, and unknown in one. Sixteen patients underwent surgery in this hospital, while the other 12 patients were operated on in other hospitals. The outcome was favorable when 1) the patients were female, 2) the age was 21-40 years old, 3) presence of sciatica, 4) the duration was 1 week to 3 months, 5) the diagnostic impression was herniated lumbar disc, 6) drugs were not prescribed, and finally 7) managed by senior doctor. However, these differences were statistically not significant(p>0.1). Although low back pain is a very common complaint, there was enormous ambiguity with respect to its diagnosis and management. Neverthless, the outcomes were not significantly different. Despite the above, we still feel that low back pains should be more systematically classified and precisely dignosed. Also the therapeutic efficacies of different modalities of treatment should be critically reviewed.

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