Sexual Dysfunction: Prevalence and Prognosis in Patients Operated for Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis.



There is a paucity of investigation on the impact of spondylolisthesis surgery on back pain-related sexual inactivity.


To investigate predictors of improved sex life postoperatively by utilizing the prospective Quality Outcomes Database (QOD) registry.


A total of 218 patients who underwent surgery for grade 1 degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis were included who were sexually active. Sex life was assessed by Oswestry Disability Index item 8 at baseline and 24-mo follow-up.


Mean age was 58.0 ± 11.0 yr, and 108 (49.5%) patients were women. At baseline, 178 patients (81.7%) had sex life impairment. At 24 mo, 130 patients (73.0% of the 178 impaired) had an improved sex life. Those with improved sex lives noted higher satisfaction with surgery (84.5% vs 64.6% would undergo surgery again, P = .002). In multivariate analyses, lower body mass index (BMI) was associated with improved sex life (OR = 1.14; 95% CI [1.05-1.20]; P < .001). In the younger patients (age < 57 yr), lower BMI remained the sole significant predictor of improvement (OR = 1.12; 95% CI [1.03-1.23]; P = .01). In the older patients (age ≥ 57 yr)-in addition to lower BMI (OR = 1.12; 95% CI [1.02-1.27]; P = .02)-lower American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) grades (1 or 2) (OR = 3.7; 95% CI [1.2-12.0]; P = .02) and ≥4 yr of college education (OR = 3.9; 95% CI [1.2-15.1]; P = .03) were predictive of improvement.


Over 80% of patients who present for surgery for degenerative lumbar spondylolisthesis report a negative effect of the disease on sex life. However, most patients (73%) report improvement postoperatively. Sex life improvement was associated with greater satisfaction with surgery. Lower BMI was predictive of improved sex life. In older patients-in addition to lower BMI-lower ASA grade and higher education were predictive of improvement.





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Publication Info

Chan, Andrew K, Erica F Bisson, Kai-Ming Fu, Paul Park, Leslie C Robinson, Mohamad Bydon, Steven D Glassman, Kevin T Foley, et al. (2020). Sexual Dysfunction: Prevalence and Prognosis in Patients Operated for Degenerative Lumbar Spondylolisthesis. Neurosurgery, 87(2). pp. 200–210. 10.1093/neuros/nyz406 Retrieved from

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Christopher Ignatius Shaffrey

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

I have more than 25 years of experience treating patients of all ages with spinal disorders. I have had an interest in the management of spinal disorders since starting my medical education. I performed residencies in both orthopaedic surgery and neurosurgery to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire range of spinal disorders. My goal has been to find innovative ways to manage the range of spinal conditions, straightforward to complex. I have a focus on managing patients with complex spinal disorders. My patient evaluation and management philosophy is to provide engaged, compassionate care that focuses on providing the simplest and least aggressive treatment option for a particular condition. In many cases, non-operative treatment options exist to improve a patient’s symptoms. I have been actively engaged in clinical research to find the best ways to manage spinal disorders in order to achieve better results with fewer complications.

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