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This article is the author's final published version in International journal of environmental research and public health, Volume 19, Issue 16, August 2022.

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Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (


Modic changes (MCs) are believed to be potential pain generators in the lumbar and cervical spine, but it is currently unclear if their presence affects postsurgical outcomes. We performed a systematic review in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. All studies evaluating cervical or lumbar spine postsurgical outcomes in patients with documented preoperative MCs were included. A total of 29 studies and 6013 patients with 2688 of those patients having preoperative MCs were included. Eight included studies evaluated cervical spine surgery, eleven evaluated lumbar discectomies, nine studied lumbar fusion surgery, and three assessed lumbar disc replacements. The presence of cervical MCs did not impact the clinical outcomes in the cervical spine procedures. Moreover, most studies found that MCs did not significantly impact the clinical outcomes following lumbar fusion, lumbar discectomy, or lumbar disc replacement. A meta-analysis of the relevant data found no significant association between MCs and VAS back pain or ODI following lumbar discectomy. Similarly, there was no association between MCs and JOA or neck pain following ACDF procedures. Patients with MC experienced statistically significant improvements following lumbar or cervical spine surgery. The postoperative improvements were similar to patients without MCs in the cervical and lumbar spine.

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