The Quebec Task Force classification for spinal disorders and the severity, treatment, and outcomes of sciatica and lumbar spinal stenosis

Steven J. Atlas, Richard (Rick) Deyo, Donald L. Patrick, Karen Convery, Robert B. Keller, Daniel E. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

128 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Study Design. A prospective cohort study of patients in Maine with sciatica and lumbar spinal stenosis treated surgically and nonsurgically. Summary of Background Data. In 1987, the Quebec Task Force on Spinal Disorders proposed a diagnostic classification to help make clinical decisions, evaluate quality of care, assess prognosis, and conduct research. Objectives. To assess the Quebec Task Force classification's ability to stratify patients according to severity and treatment at baseline, and to assess changes over time in health-related quality of life, including symptoms, functional status, and disability. Methods. Five hundred sixteen patients participating in the Maine Lumbar Spine Study who completed baseline and 1-year follow-up evaluations were classified successfully according to the Quebec Task Force classification. Patient characteristics and treatments were compared across Quebec Task Force classification categories. Changes in health-related quality of life over 1 year were assessed according to Quebec Task Force classification category and type of treatment. Results. Among patients with sciatica (n = 370), higher Quebec Task Force classification categories (from 2, pain radiating to the proximal extremity, to 6, sciatica with evidence of nerve root compression) were associated with increased severity of symptoms at baseline. There was no association between Quebec Task Force classification and baseline functional status. Quebec Task Force classification was associated strongly with the likelihood of receiving surgical treatment (P ≤ 0.005). Among patients with sciatica treated nonsurgically, improvement at 1 year in back-specific and generic physical function increased with higher Quebec Task Force classification category (P ≤ 0.05). Only a nonsignificant trend was observed for surgically treated patients. Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (Quebec Task Force classification 7, n = 131) had baseline features and outcomes distinct from patients with sciatica. Conclusions. For patients with sciatica, the Quebec Task Force classification was highly associated with the severity of symptoms and the probability of subsequent surgical treatment. Nonsurgically treated patients in Quebec Task Force classification categories reflecting nerve root compression had greater improvement than those with pain symptoms alone. Among surgical patients, the Quebec Task Force classification was not associated with outcome. These results provide validation for the classification and its wider adoption. Nonetheless, improved diagnostic classifications are needed to predict outcomes better in patients with sciatica who undergo surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2885-2892
Number of pages8
JournalSpine
Volume21
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

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Sciatica
Spinal Stenosis
Quebec
Advisory Committees
Radiculopathy
Quality of Life
Therapeutics
Pain
Aptitude
Quality of Health Care

Keywords

  • classification
  • cohort study
  • diagnosis
  • low back pain
  • lumbar disc surgery
  • lumbar spinal stenosis
  • natural history
  • outcomes research
  • prognosis
  • sciatica

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Cite this

The Quebec Task Force classification for spinal disorders and the severity, treatment, and outcomes of sciatica and lumbar spinal stenosis. / Atlas, Steven J.; Deyo, Richard (Rick); Patrick, Donald L.; Convery, Karen; Keller, Robert B.; Singer, Daniel E.

In: Spine, Vol. 21, No. 24, 15.12.1996, p. 2885-2892.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Atlas, Steven J. ; Deyo, Richard (Rick) ; Patrick, Donald L. ; Convery, Karen ; Keller, Robert B. ; Singer, Daniel E. / The Quebec Task Force classification for spinal disorders and the severity, treatment, and outcomes of sciatica and lumbar spinal stenosis. In: Spine. 1996 ; Vol. 21, No. 24. pp. 2885-2892.
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abstract = "Study Design. A prospective cohort study of patients in Maine with sciatica and lumbar spinal stenosis treated surgically and nonsurgically. Summary of Background Data. In 1987, the Quebec Task Force on Spinal Disorders proposed a diagnostic classification to help make clinical decisions, evaluate quality of care, assess prognosis, and conduct research. Objectives. To assess the Quebec Task Force classification's ability to stratify patients according to severity and treatment at baseline, and to assess changes over time in health-related quality of life, including symptoms, functional status, and disability. Methods. Five hundred sixteen patients participating in the Maine Lumbar Spine Study who completed baseline and 1-year follow-up evaluations were classified successfully according to the Quebec Task Force classification. Patient characteristics and treatments were compared across Quebec Task Force classification categories. Changes in health-related quality of life over 1 year were assessed according to Quebec Task Force classification category and type of treatment. Results. Among patients with sciatica (n = 370), higher Quebec Task Force classification categories (from 2, pain radiating to the proximal extremity, to 6, sciatica with evidence of nerve root compression) were associated with increased severity of symptoms at baseline. There was no association between Quebec Task Force classification and baseline functional status. Quebec Task Force classification was associated strongly with the likelihood of receiving surgical treatment (P ≤ 0.005). Among patients with sciatica treated nonsurgically, improvement at 1 year in back-specific and generic physical function increased with higher Quebec Task Force classification category (P ≤ 0.05). Only a nonsignificant trend was observed for surgically treated patients. Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (Quebec Task Force classification 7, n = 131) had baseline features and outcomes distinct from patients with sciatica. Conclusions. For patients with sciatica, the Quebec Task Force classification was highly associated with the severity of symptoms and the probability of subsequent surgical treatment. Nonsurgically treated patients in Quebec Task Force classification categories reflecting nerve root compression had greater improvement than those with pain symptoms alone. Among surgical patients, the Quebec Task Force classification was not associated with outcome. These results provide validation for the classification and its wider adoption. Nonetheless, improved diagnostic classifications are needed to predict outcomes better in patients with sciatica who undergo surgery.",
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AU - Deyo, Richard (Rick)

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AU - Convery, Karen

AU - Keller, Robert B.

AU - Singer, Daniel E.

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N2 - Study Design. A prospective cohort study of patients in Maine with sciatica and lumbar spinal stenosis treated surgically and nonsurgically. Summary of Background Data. In 1987, the Quebec Task Force on Spinal Disorders proposed a diagnostic classification to help make clinical decisions, evaluate quality of care, assess prognosis, and conduct research. Objectives. To assess the Quebec Task Force classification's ability to stratify patients according to severity and treatment at baseline, and to assess changes over time in health-related quality of life, including symptoms, functional status, and disability. Methods. Five hundred sixteen patients participating in the Maine Lumbar Spine Study who completed baseline and 1-year follow-up evaluations were classified successfully according to the Quebec Task Force classification. Patient characteristics and treatments were compared across Quebec Task Force classification categories. Changes in health-related quality of life over 1 year were assessed according to Quebec Task Force classification category and type of treatment. Results. Among patients with sciatica (n = 370), higher Quebec Task Force classification categories (from 2, pain radiating to the proximal extremity, to 6, sciatica with evidence of nerve root compression) were associated with increased severity of symptoms at baseline. There was no association between Quebec Task Force classification and baseline functional status. Quebec Task Force classification was associated strongly with the likelihood of receiving surgical treatment (P ≤ 0.005). Among patients with sciatica treated nonsurgically, improvement at 1 year in back-specific and generic physical function increased with higher Quebec Task Force classification category (P ≤ 0.05). Only a nonsignificant trend was observed for surgically treated patients. Patients with lumbar spinal stenosis (Quebec Task Force classification 7, n = 131) had baseline features and outcomes distinct from patients with sciatica. Conclusions. For patients with sciatica, the Quebec Task Force classification was highly associated with the severity of symptoms and the probability of subsequent surgical treatment. Nonsurgically treated patients in Quebec Task Force classification categories reflecting nerve root compression had greater improvement than those with pain symptoms alone. Among surgical patients, the Quebec Task Force classification was not associated with outcome. These results provide validation for the classification and its wider adoption. Nonetheless, improved diagnostic classifications are needed to predict outcomes better in patients with sciatica who undergo surgery.

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KW - cohort study

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KW - lumbar disc surgery

KW - lumbar spinal stenosis

KW - natural history

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KW - prognosis

KW - sciatica

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