Study design: Retrospective register study.
Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the incidence and trends of lumbar disc surgeries in Finland from 1997 through 2018.
Summary of background data: The evidence on lumbar spine discectomy has shifted from supporting surgical treatment toward nonoperative treatment. Still, the incidence of lumbar discectomy operations increased until the 1990 s. In the United States, the incidence began to decline after a downward turn in 2008, yet recent trends from countries with public and practically free health care are not widely known.
Methods: Data for this study were obtained from the Finnish nationwide National Hospital Discharge Register. The study population covered all patients 18 years of age or older in Finland during a 22-year period from January 1, 1997, to December 31, 2018.
Results: A total of 65,912 lumbar discectomy operations were performed in Finland from 1997 through 2018. The annual population-based incidence of lumbar discectomy decreased 29% during the 22-year period, from 83 per 100,000 person-years in 1997 to 58 per 100,000 person-years in 2018. In addition, the incidence of microdiscectomy increased 12%, from 41 per 100,000 person-years in 1997 to 47 per 100,000 person-years in 2018, whereas the incidence of open discectomy decreased 71%, from 41 per 100,000 person-years in 1997 to 12 per 100,000 person-years in 2018. The total reoperation rate for microendoscopic, microscopic, and open discectomy surgeries was 16.3%, 15.3%, and 14.9%, respectively.
Conclusion: The nationwide incidence of lumbar discectomy decreased in Finland from 1997 through 2018. Additionally, the incidence of open discectomy is decreasing rapidly, whereas the incidence of microsurgical techniques is increasing.Level of Evidence: 3.
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