How can I avoid failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)?

Even though many neck and back surgeries are successful, some ultimately fail. Of the various causes of failed back surgery syndrome, some can’t be prevented. For instance, it is impossible to predict the unique way in which a patient will respond to surgical treatment. On the other hand, certain other causes can be avoided, such as a patient’s failure to closely follow a surgeon’s recovery guidelines.

Choosing the right surgeon

One of the most important things you can do prior to having neck or back surgery is choose a highly experienced orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon. He or she will be responsible for:

  • Correctly diagnosing your condition
  • Recommending an appropriate procedure for the correct part of your spine
  • Removing the problematic bone or tissue
  • Properly securing any hardware, if applicable to your operation
  • Limiting the impact of the procedure on the muscles and soft tissues in your neck or back

If any of these tasks are performed incorrectly or incompletely, it can increase the likelihood of FBSS. To help lower this risk, you’ll want to work with an orthopedic surgeon who has several years (or even better — several decades) of experience and has a current board certification. You’ll also want to ask how many times he or she has performed the specific type of operation that you’re considering, what the outcomes were and which surgical techniques were used. This last factor is especially important because certain approaches have inherently lower rates of failed back surgery syndrome.

Minimally invasive spine surgery

When compared to traditional neck and back surgeries, minimally invasive surgeries generally have a lower rate of failure. One reason is that minimally invasive procedures involve smaller incisions and less scarring. Excess scar tissue, which can potentially compress spinal nerves, is another common reason that some people experience continued discomfort after neck or back surgery.

At Laser Spine Institute, we use muscle-sparing techniques during our minimally invasive spine surgeries, which allow our procedures to require a shorter recovery time than open spine procedures.^ Of course, it’s still important for our patients to carefully follow their recovery guidelines, but our outcomes make our procedures an appealing option for many individuals.

If you’ve been hesitant to move forward with spine surgery because you’re concerned about failed back surgery syndrome, you can contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures. We can perform a free MRI review* to help you determine if you’re a candidate for our outpatient operations.