We mention often at the Bonati Spine Institute that fusions fail over 50% of the time. Because of this we recommend avoiding fusions if at all possible. Below is an example of one study explaining why a patient may want to think twice when considering a fusion procedure.
Sweden-based Uppsala University’s Swedish Spinal Stenosis Study included 247 patients with lumbar spine stenosis at one or two adjacent vertebral levels. The researchers investigated whether the combination of fusion and decompression resulted in better clinical outcomes at two years post-surgery, compared to just decompression surgery. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study in its April 14, 2016 issue. Here are six takeaways from the study:
- Adding fusion did not improve Oswestry Disability Index* scores at two years and five years post-surgery.
- The mean ODI* at two years for the fusion patients was 27, compared to 24 in the decompression-alone group.
- Those with degenerative spondylolisthesis demonstrated no disability score improvement with fusion.
- Fusion patients experienced greater hospital stays, with 7.4 days versus 4.1 days.
- Fusion with decompression increased costs but did not enhance outcomes, including walking distance.
- Researchers concluded spinal fusion plus decompression surgery does not produce added benefits for patients or leave them less disabled.
*The Oswestry Disability Index (ODI) is an index derived from the Oswestry Low Back Pain Questionnaire used by clinicians and researchers to quantify disability for low back pain. It is currently considered by many as the gold standard for measuring degree of disability and estimating quality of life in a person with low back pain.
If you’re seeking treatment for chronic neck or back pain and have been recommended a fusion, allow our surgeons to review your case before making any final decisions. The patented Bonati Spine Procedures are a proven alternative to fusions, having performed 55,000 procedures with a 98.75% patient satisfaction rating. To get your review process started, complete our MRI review form.