A study published in SPINE in February 2011, compared 725 lumbar fusion cases to 725 controls who were randomly selected from a pool of worker’s compensation subjects with chronic low back pain diagnoses with dates of injury between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2001.

The study ended on January 31, 2006. Main outcomes were reported as RTW (return to work) status 2 years after the date of injury (for controls) or 2 years after date of surgery (for cases). Disability, reoperations, complications, opioid usage, and deaths were also determined.

Specific findings from the study:

  • Two years after fusion surgery, 26% of fusion cases had RTW, while 67% of nonsurgical controls had RTW within 2 years from the date of injury.
  • The reoperation rate was 27% for surgical patients.
  • Of the lumbar fusion subjects, 36% had complications.
  • Permanent disability rates were 11% for cases and 2% for nonoperative controls.
  • For lumbar fusion subjects, daily opioid use increased 41% after surgery, with 76% of cases continuing opioid use after surgery.
  • Total number of days off work was more prolonged for cases, 1140 days compared to controls at 316 days.

“The study provides clear evidence that for many patients, fusion surgeries designed to alleviate pain from degenerating discs don’t work,” says the study’s lead author Dr. Trang Nguyen, a researcher at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

If you would like to read more about fusion studies, feel free to read our other blog posts here: https://www.bonati.com/blog/case-against-fusion-1/https://www.bonati.com/blog/case-fusion-2/https://www.bonati.com/blog/case-fusion-3/ and https://www.bonati.com/blog/a-case-against-fusion-4/.

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.