Kantonsspital St.Gallen

Responsiveness of the self-measured 6-minute walking test and the Timed Up and Go test in patients with degenerative lumbar disorders

Nicolai Maldaner, Marketa Sosnova, Anna M Zeitlberger, Michal Ziga, Oliver P Gautschi, Luca Regli, Oliver Bozinov, Astrid Weyerbrock & Martin N. Stienen


The 6-minute walking test (6WT) and the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test are two of the most commonly applied standardized measures of objective functional impairment that help support clinical decision-making for patients undergoing surgery for degenerative lumbar disorders. This study correlates smartphone-app-based 6WT and TUG results to evaluate their responsiveness.

In a prospective study, 49 consecutive patients were assessed preoperatively and 6 weeks postoperatively using the 6WT, the TUG test, and commonly used patient-reported outcome measures. Raw values and standardized z-scores of both objective tests were correlated. An external criterion for treatment success was created based on the Zurich Claudication Questionnaire patient satisfaction subscale. Internal and external responsiveness for both functional tests was evaluated.

The mean preoperative 6WT results improved from 401 m (SD 129 m), z-score -1.65 (SD 1.6) to 495 m (SD 129 m), z-score -0.71 (SD 1.6, p < 0.001). The mean preoperative TUG test results improved from 10.44 seconds (SD 4.37, z-score: -3.22) to 8.47 seconds (SD 3.38, z-score: -1.93, p < 0.001). The 6WT showed a strong negative correlation with TUG test results (r = -66, 95% CI 0.76-0.53, p < 0.001). The 6WT showed higher internal responsiveness (standardized responsive mean = 0.86) compared to the TUG test (standardized responsive mean = 0.67). Evaluation of external responsiveness revealed that the 6WT was capable of differentiating between patients who were satisfied and those who were unsatisfied with their treatment results (area under the curve = 0.70), whereas this was not evident for the TUG test ( area under the curve = 0.53).

Both tests adequately quantified functional impairment in surgical candidates with degenerative lumbar disorders. The 6WT demonstrated better internal and external responsiveness compared with the TUG test. Clinical trial registration no.: NCT03977961 (clinicaltrials.gov).

AUC = area under the curve; COMI = Core Outcome Measures Index; DLDs = degenerative lumbar disorders; LDH = lumbar disc herniation; LSS = lumbar spinal stenosis; PROM = patient-reported outcome measure; ROC = receiver operating characteristic; SRM = standardized responsive mean; TUG = Timed Up and Go; VAS = visual analog scale; 6WD = 6-minute walking distance; 6WT = 6-minute walking test; ZCQ = Zurich Claudication Questionnaire.
citation Maldaner N, Sosnova M, Zeitlberger A M, Ziga M, Gautschi O P, Regli L, Bozinov O, Weyerbrock A, Stienen M N. Responsiveness of the self-measured 6-minute walking test and the Timed Up and Go test in patients with degenerative lumbar disorders. J Neurosurg Spine 2021;.
type journal paper/review (English)
date of publishing 07-05-2021
journal title J Neurosurg Spine
ISSN electronic 1547-5646
PubMed 33974372
DOI 10.3171/2020.11.SPINE201621