The success rates of back and neck surgery depend on several factors such as the condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and the type of surgery used. As there are several potential sources of back and neck discomfort, so too are there many types of spine surgery. And these procedures can range from a massively intrusive open back surgery to a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure. Likewise, the source of back pain can range from a relatively minor swollen disc to a serious disorder requiring emergency surgery. With so many variables to be considered, doctors are often hesitant to estimate success rates with spine surgery.
Spinal fusion, for example, is an invasive open back procedure that is often recommended to an individual who is suffering from degenerative disc disease. In order to alleviate back pain stemming from the motion between two vertebrae, a surgeon enters the back through a large incision, dissects the tissue, and literally grafts (or “fuses”) the two bones together. Unfortunately, these bone grafts can be rejected by the body – as often as 25% of the time – plus, the pain can be transferred to other segments of the spine, and post-operative problems can arise (namely blood clots, infection, and scar tissue buildup).
Meanwhile, the alternative to spinal fusion, known as a endoscopic discectomy, is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure in which the doctor surgically removes a portion of a herniated or bulging disc with a gentle laser that is introduced through a tiny incision. Since a minimal amount of disc tissue is removed and the spinal structure remains basically intact, there is no need to resort to spinal fusion as a way to strengthen the spine. And, unlike open back surgery, endoscopic discectomy is quick, less painful and has a much higher success rate.
Unfortunately, there is no magic formula for back and neck pain, and surgical treatments show varied success rates. In fact, some estimate that as many as 50% of open back procedures do not entirely alleviate the pain and other symptoms associated with spine disorders. In contrast, more than 85% of patients who receive outpatient endoscopic treatment at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) report that their symptoms are partially or completely relieved within 3 months of the procedure.
To increase the likelihood of a successful surgery:
- Consider an endoscopic operation as an alternative to open back surgery
- Ensure the true origin of the back pain has been identified
- Complete post-operative physical therapy and adhere to medical instructions
- Have realistic expectations for pain relief
To learn more about the success rates of open back surgery as opposed to the success rates at LSI, or for more information about the endoscopic spine procedures we offer, contact our award-winning staff. We can also provide you with a free MRI or CT scan review.