Background and purpose — The outcome of surgical treatment of lumbar disc herniation (LDH) has been thoroughly evaluated in middle-aged patients, but less so in elderly patients. Patients and methods — With validated patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) and using SweSpine (the national Swedish Spine Surgery Register), we analyzed the preoperative clinical status of LDH patients and the 1-year postoperative outcome of LDH surgery performed over the period 2000–2012. We included 1,250 elderly patients (≥ 65 years of age) and 12,840 young and middle-aged patients (aged 20–64). Results — Generally speaking, elderly patients were referred for LDH surgery with worse PROM scores than young and middle-aged patients, they improved less by surgery, they experienced more complications, they had inferior 1-year postoperative PROM scores, and they were less satisfied with the outcome (with all differences being statistically significant). Interpretation — Elderly patients appear to have a worse postoperative outcome after LDH surgery than young and middle-aged patients, they are referred to surgery with inferior clinical status, and they improve less after the surgery.
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