Can bone graft rejection cause failed back surgery syndrome pain?

Failed back surgery syndrome pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including bone graft rejection after a spinal fusion operation. Even when an autologous bone graft is used, which means the graft is harvested from the patient’s own body, there is always the risk that the graft will fail to facilitate the bone growth necessary for a successful spinal fusion.

Symptoms of bone graft rejection will often develop during the recovery period and may include intense pain and limited mobility. If you are experiencing these symptoms in the area of your spine surgery, you should consult your physician or surgeon as soon as possible. Your physician can help you determine the next best step for you to find pain relief from your failed back surgery.

Reasons for bone graft rejection

A variety of factors can come into play when considering how well a bone graft will be accepted. An autograft offers the best chance since it is taken from the patient’s own body, usually the pelvic bone. However, some patients may not be candidates for autologous grafting, in which cases alternatives like an allograft — a graft taken from a cadaver and obtained from a bone bank — or a bone graft substitute like demineralized bone matrix or bone morphogenic proteins are used.

Pseudoarthrosis, also referred to as nonunion or failure to fuse, can have many causes, with a patient’s overall level of health playing a very large role. More specifically, the following factors can greatly increase the risk of pseudoarthrosis due to bone graft rejection:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Patients who have had multiple spine surgeries
  • Patients who have multilevel fusions
  • Osteoporosis
  • Malnutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Reducing your risk of failed spinal fusion

If you are considering spinal fusion after exhausting conservative treatments, you should be fully aware of the risks associated with bone grafting and pseudoarthrosis, including the risk of failed back surgery syndrome pain.

The minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers a lower risk of complications, such as failed back surgery syndrome, compared to traditional open spine surgery. Our minimally invasive stabilization procedures are an alternative to traditional open fusions because our board-certified surgeons+ use muscle-sparing techniques allowing them to be performed on an outpatient basis. If you would like to learn more about all of your options for surgical spine treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute.

To determine if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at one of our outpatient facilities, our dedicated team can help you receive a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.*