All surgical procedures carry some degree of risk. Due to the complex nature of spinal surgery, associated risks may be compounded compared to surgical procedures performed on other parts of the body. Because spinal surgeries generally have an effectiveness rate of approximately 95%, communication between doctor and patient is paramount.
Most spinal surgeries achieve the predicted degree of correction. However, some patients do not attain the benefits they anticipated during surgical planning. Pain that does not resolve within several weeks after back or neck surgery may indicate that the initial procedure has failed. Some surgeons refer to this as post-laminectomy syndrome or failed back surgery syndrome (FBS). By any name, it is important to address the chronic pain that persists after spine surgery.
Knowing the Risks
There are certain situations in which the risk of failed back surgery may be higher. Discussion of risk is especially important for individuals with peripheral artery disease, an autoimmune disorder, or diabetes. These and other factors may create a situation in which spine surgery is not the best treatment option.
We cannot discuss the risks of spine surgery failure without mentioning the detrimental effects of smoking. Smokers have a high risk of surgery failure because the nicotine in cigarettes interferes with the natural healing process, particularly with bone healing. Smoking represents one of the most prominent situations in which spine surgery may not be an optimal treatment plan; that is how profound the effects of smoking are on the body.
Why Revision Spine Surgery May be Considered
Thorough testing can determine the cause of ongoing pain after spine surgery. This may involve x-rays, CT scans, MRI, and bone scans as is necessary to isolate the factors that are contributing to pain. Appropriate imaging may identify:
- Scar tissue in the surgical site
- Hardware or implant failure
- Insufficient spinal fusion
- Surgical error
- Referred pain (the location of the problem was not addressed during surgery)
Improving the Outcome of Spinal Surgery
Pain is only one aspect of spinal care. To minimize surgical risks as much as possible, it is necessary to consult with a surgeon who has an expert understanding of the spine and all available therapeutic options. As an experienced neurosurgeon with extensive training, Dr. Lipani observes the bigger picture. His patient outcomes statistically exceed the national average, and consultations cover critical points to include general health and medical history along with any psychological, social, or vocational conditions that coincide with pain.
Schedule a Consultation
Are you seeking more information to help you decide how to move forward to resolve back pain? Contact us in Somerset, Princeton, or Morristown to schedule a consultation.