| research/study

Degenerative Spondylolisthesis Treatment: When Surgery Reduces Risks

Research Indicates Risk of Opioid Dependence is Greater Before Surgery Than After

An affirmation of the value of surgical intervention for treatment of degenerative spondylolisthesis (DS) was recently offered in findings from new research reported in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. The study concluded that the risk for development of opioid dependence in patients with DS was higher before surgery than after. DS is a condition involving forward slippage of a vertebra onto the vertebra below. It is most common in the lumbar spine due to age-related weakness in bones, joints and ligaments, and causes leg fatigue, muscle spasms and gait irregularities, in addition to leg and lower back pain. Surgical intervention is indicated if the case is accompanied by neurological damage, disabling pain or is non-responsive to nonsurgical treatment.

In the study, data on 10,708 patients who underwent DS surgery was analyzed for pre-and post-surgical incidence of opioid dependence. Median age of subjects was 61 years, and 64% were women. 94% of surgical procedures were decompression with fusion, most involving multiple vertebra. The researchers found that opioid dependence was reduced by 5% following DS surgery, and that after surgery, patients were twice as likely to become opioid independent than to develop dependence. Older patients were also less likely to become opioid dependent. Summarizing the conclusions, lead author Mayur Sharma, MD, MCh, with the department of neurosurgery, University of Louisville stated, “Decompression and fusion for DS is associated with reduced risk of opioid dependency.”

Read about the study findings.

The journal article may be read here.

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