Are Modic Changes Associated with Health-related Quality of Life after Discectomy: A Study on 620 Patients with Two-year Follow-up

Peter Muhareb Udby, Søren Ohrt-Nissen, Tom Bendix, Rune Paulsen, Christian Støttrup, Andreas Andresen, Leah Y Carreon, Stig Brorson, Mikkel Østerheden Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


STUDY DESIGN: A registry-based comparative cohort study with 2-year follow-up.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether Modic changes (MCs) are associated with health-related quality of life, long-term physical disability, back- or leg pain after discectomy.

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Previous studies have failed to show a clinically significant association between MCs and patient-reported outcomes (PROs) after discectomy.

METHODS: Data from the Danish National Spine Registry on patients undergoing first-time lumbar discectomy at a single institution from 2014 to 2017 with an accessible preoperative lumbar magnetic resonance imaging, complete preoperative, and 2-year follow-up questionnaires were obtained. PROs including Oswestry disability index (ODI), European Quality of Life-Five Dimensions (EQ-5D), visual analogue scale (VAS) back and leg pain, and patient satisfaction were collected. Patients were stratified based on the presence (+MC) or absence (-MC) of MCs on the preoperative MRI.

RESULTS: Of 620 patients included, MCs were present in 290 patients (47%). Of these, MC type 1 (MC-1) was present in 73 (25%) and MC type 2 (MC-2) in 217 (75%) patients. Preoperative data for ODI, EQ-5D, VAS-BP, and VAS-LP were comparable for the +MC and -MC groups. Both groups had a statistically significant improvement in PROs from baseline compared with 2-year follow-up (P < 0.001). At 2-year follow-up, both groups had improved with no significant difference between them in regards to ODI (15.5 vs. 17.2, P = 0.208); EQ-5D (0.75 vs. 0.72, P = 0.167); VAS-BP (27.1 vs. 28.3, P = 0.617); VAS-LP (26.8 vs. 25.0, P = 0.446); and patient satisfaction (74% vs. 76%, P = 0.878).

CONCLUSION: MCs were not found to be associated with health-related quality of life, disability, back- or leg pain, or patient satisfaction 2 years after discectomy.


Original languageEnglish
Issue number21
Pages (from-to)1491-1497
Publication statusPublished - 1. Nov 2020


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