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Retrospective assessment of surgery outcome is considered problematic. The aims of this study were to evaluate the reproducibility and accuracy of a retrospective outcome assessment of lumbar spinal stenosis surgery with reference to prospective outcome scale measurements.
Outcome of surgery from 100 lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) patients was evaluated retrospectively from patient files of a 3-month outpatient visit performed according to a standard clinical protocol by two independent researchers. In the retrospective analysis, outcome was graded as 2=good if the clinical condition had clearly improved, 1=moderate if it had just slightly improved, 0=poor if it had not improved or was even worse than before the surgical treatment (Retrospective 3- point scale). A prospectively assessed Oswestry Disability Index questionnaire (ODI), Visual analogue pain scale (VAS) and a patient satisfaction questionnaire were used as references of standards. Reproducibility of the measurements was evaluated.
The retrospective 3-point scale correlated with ODI (r=0.528; P<0.001) and VAS (r=0.368; P<0.001). The agreement was better in the good and poor outcome than in the moderate outcome. Retrospective 3-point scale demonstrated substantial intra-rater and inter-rater repeatability (κ=0.682, P<0.001 and κ=0.630, P<0.001, respectively).
Retrospective assessment of spinal surgery outcome is highly reproducible. Accuracy is highest in the patients with poor and good surgical result.