Return to Sport After Lumbar Microdiscectomy in High School and College-Age Athletes

Academic Article


  • Background: Previous studies have reported the return to play (RTP) rates for athletes after lumbar discectomy but not specifically for younger athletes. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the RTP rate for young athletes after lumbar microdiscectomy. Methods: The medical records from a single spine surgeon were reviewed to identify patients who had undergone lumbar microdiscectomy. The patients were included if they were aged ≤21 years at surgery and were athletes. A total of 38 patients (25 males and 13 females) were identified, with a mean age at surgery of 19 years. The level of the herniated nucleus pulposus, variant anatomy, degenerative changes, gender, preoperative blocks, ring apophyseal fractures, and duration of symptoms from onset until surgery were recorded. The patients were interviewed to determine when and if they had returned to play. Results: Most patients had had degenerative changes at surgery, with a mean Pfirrmann score of 2.2. The average time from symptom onset to surgery was 11 months. All patients were reached for follow-up at an average of 51 months postoperatively. Of the 38 patients, 71% had returned to play at an average of 4.5 months postoperatively. No statistically significant differences were found in the Pfirrmann grade and RTP rates between the high school and collegiate athletes, between the genders, nor between patients with 2-level and 1-level discectomy. The Pfirrmann grade was not significantly different between the patients who had and had not returned to play. Conclusions: The prognosis for returning to competitive sports after lumbar microdiscectomy in young athletes is good. The RTP rate and Pfirrmann grade were not related to gender, sport level, or discectomy level.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • World Neurosurgery  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Cordover JB; Fleisig GS; Raszewski JA; Dumont AS; Cordover AM
  • Start Page

  • e516
  • End Page

  • e521
  • Volume

  • 163