We performed a comprehensive search of Pubmed, MEDLINE, and EMBASE for all English-language studies of all levels of evidence pertaining to SPORT, in accordance with Preferred Reported Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analayses (PRISMA) guidelines.

We aim to summarize the 10-year clinical outcomes of SPORT and its numerous follow-up studies for spinal stenosis.

The Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial (SPORT) was a landmark randomized control trial including approximately 2,500 patients at 13 clinics across the country. SPORT compared surgical and nonoperative management of the three most common spinal pathologies.

Keywords utilized in the literature search included: SPORT, spine patient outcomes research trial, spinal stenosis, and surgical outcomes.

Surgical intervention showed significantly greater improvement in pain and physical function scales from 6 weeks through 4 years. However, between 4 and 8 years, the difference between the two groups diminished, and the benefits in both groups stabilized. Secondary factors investigated showed that smoking was a confounding variable for treatment benefits and a positive sedimentation sign correlated with a greater surgical treatment effect. Obese patients were found to have higher rates of infection and reoperation and less improvement from baseline function. Risk factors for reoperation included duration of pretreatment symptoms for longer than 12 months, increased age, multiple levels of stenosis, predominant back pain, no physical therapy, greater leg pain, the use of antidepressants and no neurogenic claudication upon enrollment.

Ten years after its inception, SPORT has made strides in standardization and optimization of treatment for spinal pathologies. SPORT has provided clinicians with insight about outcomes of surgical and nonoperative treatment of spinal stenosis. Results showed significantly greater improvement through 4 year follow up in those patients that received surgical treatment, however the difference between the surgical and nonsurgical groups diminished at 8 year follow up.


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