Eight-Year Results of the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT)
Published in Spine. 2015;40(2):63-76.
Authors: Jon D. Lurie, MD, MS et al
Study Design. Randomized trial with a concurrent observational cohort study.
Objective. To compare 8-year outcomes of surgery with nonoperative care for symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis.
Summary of Background Data. Surgery for spinal stenosis has been shown to be more effective than nonoperative treatment during 4 years, but longer-term data are less clear.
Methods. Surgical candidates from 13 centers in 11 US states with at least 12 weeks of symptoms and confirmatory imaging were enrolled in a randomized cohort or observational cohort. Treatment was standard, decompressive laminectomy versus standard nonoperative care. Primary outcomes were SF-36 (MOS 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey) Bodily Pain and Physical Function scales and the modified Oswestry Disability Index assessed at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and yearly up to 8 years.
Results. Data were obtained for 55% of participants in the randomized group and 52% of participants in the observational group at the 8-year follow-up. Intent-to-treat analyses showed no differences between randomized cohorts; however, 70% of those randomized to surgery and 52% of those randomized to nonoperative had undergone surgery by 8 years. As-treated analyses in the randomized group showed that the early benefit for surgery out to 4 years converged over time, with no significant treatment effect of surgery seen in years 6 to 8 for any of the primary outcomes. In contrast, the observational group showed a stable advantage for surgery in all outcomes between years 5 and 8. Patients who were lost to follow-up were older, less well-educated, sicker, and had worse outcomes during the first 2 years in both surgical and nonoperative arms.
Conclusion. Patients with symptomatic spinal stenosis show diminishing benefits of surgery in as-treated analyses of the randomized group between 4 and 8 years, whereas outcomes in the observational group remained stable. Loss to follow-up of patients with worse early outcomes in both treatment groups could lead to overestimates of long-term outcomes but likely not bias treatment effect estimates.