Patient and Surgeon Perceptions Regarding Microdiscectomy Surgery: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Social Media Posts

Anastasios G. Roumeliotis*, Peter R. Swiatek, Cody Goedderz, Priyanka Mathur, Yue Zhang, Erik B. Gerlach, Srikanth N. Divi, Wellington K. Hsu, Alpesh A. Patel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Social media offers a powerful and expanding platform for sharing the patient experience with a large audience through an unsolicited perspective. The content may influence future perceptions around surgical care. Objective: To analyze publicly available content on a major social media outlet related to microdiscectomy surgery based on perspective, location, timing, content, tone, and patient satisfaction. Methods: A query of content was performed for the study period 1 January 2019 to 1 January 2021. Relevant content was identified by hashtag “#microdiscectomy.” The initial query returned 10, 050 publicly available posts, and the 1500 most “liked” posts were included for evaluation. Content was subsequently classified, characterized, and analyzed. Results: Patients created 72.9% of microdiscectomy-related content, and spine surgeons created 23.5%. Regarding region, 77.0% of posts originated in the United States. The majority portrayed the patient experience in the postoperative phase of care (86.0%), with the primary reference to activities of daily living (56.9%). Only 1.7% of posts depicted the surgical incision site. The connotation of posts was deemed positive in 78.5% of cases. Of the posts referencing satisfaction, 98.3% depicted patient satisfaction with the surgical outcome. Patient posts in the postoperative phase of care (>1 week after surgery) were more than 2 times as likely to express positive tone (OR = 2.07, P ≤ 0.013) with their clinical course compared with patient posts outside the postoperative period. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Overall, social media posts are written in a positive tone, express satisfaction with surgical outcome, typically occur in the postoperative period of care, and depict activities of daily living. These popular mechanisms of communication, such as Instagram, offer spine surgeons unique insights into the true patient experience and may provide an opportunity for surgeons to assess patient feedback, influence patient perceptions, and enhance delivery of lumbar spine care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-441
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Spine Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023


  • Instagram
  • lumbar spine
  • microdiscectomy
  • patient-reported outcomes
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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