The Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is the most commonly applied objective measure of functional impairment in patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD).
To demonstrate external content validity of the TUG test.
Consecutive adult patients, scheduled for elective lumbar spine surgery, were screened for enrollment into a prospective observational study. Disease severity was estimated by patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs; Visual Analog Scales [VAS], Core Outcome Measures Index [COMI] back, Zurich Claudication Questionnaire [ZCQ]) and the TUG test. Pearson correlation coefficients (PCCs) were used to describe the relationship between logarithmic TUG test raw values and PROMs.
A total of 70 patients (mean age 55.9 ± 15.4 yr; 38.6% female; 27.1% previous spine surgery; 28.6% lower extremity motor deficits) with lumbar disc herniation (50%), lumbar spinal stenosis (34.3%), or instability requiring spinal fusion (15.7%) were included. The mean TUG test time was 10.8 ± 4.4 s; age- and sex-adjusted objective functional impairment (OFI) T-score was 134.2 ± 36.9. A total of 12 (17.1%) patients had mild, 14 (20%) moderate, and 9 (12.9%) severe OFI, while 35 (50%) had TUG test results within the normal population range (no OFI). PCCs between TUG test time and VAS back pain were r = 0.37 (P = .002), VAS leg pain r = 0.37 (P = .002), COMI back r = 0.50 (P < .001), ZCQ symptom severity r = 0.41 (P < .001), and ZCQ physical function r = 0.36 (P = .002).
This external validation demonstrated similar OFI rates and PCCs between logarithmic TUG test results and PROMs compared to the original article from 2016. These findings support the TUG test being a quick, easy-to-use objective test, which provides the physician with a robust estimate of pain and functional impairment.