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.

Burlington, Massachusetts based Lahey Hospital and Medical Center researchers analyzing whether lumbar laminectomy with instrumented fusion would benefit patients more than laminectomy alone. The study involved 66 patients with lumbar spinal stenosis and degenerative spondylolisthesis. Researchers divided the group into decompressive laminectomy or laminectomy with posterolateral instrumented fusion. Here are five observations from the second study:

  1. The change in ODI at two years for the fusion patients was -26.3, compared to -17.9 in the decompression-alone group.
  2. The SF-36 at two years post-surgery increased by 15.2 for the fusion group and 9.5 for the decompression-alone group.
  3. Fusion patients experienced greater hospital stays, with 4.2 days versus 2.6 days.
  4. Mean blood loss was 513.7 mL for the fusion patients versus 83.4 mL for decompression-alone patients.
  5. Researchers concluded instrumented fusion did not add value for patients.

*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.

The New England Journal of Medicine published this study in its April 14, 2016 issue. If you would like to read more about fusion studies, feel free to read another study here: https://www.bonati.com/blog/case-against-fusion-1/.

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.