Spinal Surgeons’ Opinions on Pre- and Postoperative Rehabilitation in Patients Undergoing Lumbar Spinal Fusion Surgery: A Survey-Based Study in the Netherlands and Sweden

Reni M.A. Van Erp*, Jetse Jelsma, Ivan P.J. Huijnen, Mari Lundberg, Paul C. Willems, Rob J.E.M. Smeets

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Study Design. A cross-sectional survey in the Netherlands and Sweden.

Objective. To investigate Dutch and Swedish spinal surgeons' opinions on spinal fusion pre- and postoperative rehabilitation.

Summary of Background Data. Lumbar spinal fusion surgery is increasingly provided in patients with chronic low back pain. No guidelines however exist for pre-and postoperative rehabilitation and it is unknown what opinions spinal surgeons currently have about pre-and postoperative rehabilitation.

Methods. A survey was circulated to Dutch and Swedish spinal surgeons. Reminders were sent after 4 and 8/9 weeks. Data of completed questionnaires of orthopedic-and neurosurgeons currently performing lumbar spinal fusion were included for analysis. Analysis comprised a range of descriptive summaries (numerical, graphical, and tabular).

Results. Surveys of 34 Dutch and 48 Swedish surgeons were analyzed. Surgeons provided preoperative information on postoperative mobilization. Spinal fusion techniques varied, but technique did not influence postoperative treatment. Swedish surgeons recommended slightly faster mobilization than Dutch (direct vs. 1-day postoperative), and more activities the first day (sitting, standing, walking). Stair climbing was the most reported discharge criterion; however, time point to start varied. More Swedish surgeons referred to postoperative physiotherapy than Dutch (88% vs. 44%). Time-point to start home activities varied from 1 week to more than 6 months. Pain increase was allowed for less than 24 hours (The Netherlands 81%, Sweden 92%).

Conclusion. Findings reflect variability in lumbar spinal fusion rehabilitation in two European countries, especially in postoperative phase. The study proposes many new research topics and acts as starting point for future research valuable for the spinal community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-719
Number of pages7
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018


  • chronic low back pain
  • fusion
  • international survey
  • low back pain
  • lumbar spinal fusion
  • physiotherapy
  • rehabilitation
  • spinal surgery
  • surgeon opinions
  • surgeon practice

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