Garrett K. Harada, Zakariah K. Siyaji, G. Michael Mallow, Alexander L. Hornung, Fayyazul Hassan, Bryce A. Basques, Haseeb A. Mohammed, Arash J. Sayari, Dino Samartzis, Howard S. An

August 2021, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 2167 - 2175 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-021-06866-5

First Online: 07 June 2021


Surgical treatment of herniated lumbar intervertebral disks is a common procedure worldwide. However, recurrent herniated nucleus pulposus (re-HNP) may develop, complicating outcomes and patient management. The purpose of this study was to utilize machine-learning (ML) analytics to predict lumbar re-HNP, whereby a personalized risk prediction can be developed as a clinical tool.


A retrospective, single center study was conducted of 2630 consecutive patients that underwent lumbar microdiscectomy (mean follow-up: 22-months). Various preoperative patient pain/disability/functional profiles, imaging parameters, and anthropomorphic/demographic metrics were noted. An Extreme Gradient Boost (XGBoost) classifier was implemented to develop a predictive model identifying patients at risk for re-HNP. The model was exported to a web application software for clinical utility.


There were 1608 males and 1022 females, 114 of whom experienced re-HNP. Primary herniations were central (65.8%), paracentral (17.6%), and far lateral (17.1%). The XGBoost algorithm identified multiple re-HNP predictors and was incorporated into an open-access web application software, identifying patients at low or high risk for re-HNP. Preoperative VAS leg, disability, alignment parameters, elevated body mass index, symptom duration, and age were the strongest predictors.


Our predictive modeling via an ML approach of our large-scale cohort is the first study, to our knowledge, that has identified significant risk factors for the development of re-HNP after initial lumbar decompression. We developed the re-herniation after decompression (RAD) profile index that has been translated into an online screening tool to identify low–high risk patients for re-HNP. Additional validation is needed for potential global implementation.

Read Full Article