Many patients who are considering surgery question the success rates of the proposed surgery and many are frightened by the numerous examples of “failed back surgery” in the media.
At Saadat Spine, we strongly believe that what makes a spine surgery successful depends on several factors. When one or more of these factors is missing, the spine surgery failure rate increases.
If you are planning on having spine surgery, make sure you can check off the following:
1. An accurate diagnosis
This is the most critical first step in ensuring the success of any spinal procedure. The spine is a very complex and sophisticated system, with an intricate interplay between many individual nerves, discs, and other structures.
Often, the MRI and CT scans reveal numerous “problems,” not all of which may be responsible for the symptoms that a patient is experiencing. Furthermore, many times a hip problem can mimic a lower back problem, or a shoulder issue can mimic a cervical spine issue.
Establishing an accurate diagnosis starts with careful attention to the symptoms that you are is experiencing, a detailed history and physical examination, and a subsequent review of the imaging studies in light of the nature of the symptoms and the exam. We often refer patients to our expert team of pain management specialists for specialized diagnostic injections to further prove the source of the problems prior to finalizing a surgical plan.
If your surgeon has spent little time getting to know your symptoms or has not performed a detailed physical examination or review of the imaging studies, it is worth obtaining a second opinion.
2. Trial of nonsurgical options prior to surgery
Most spinal problems can be effectively treated without surgery, and, except in rare circumstances, surgery should not be the first option in treating a spinal problem.
If your spinal surgeon has not considered non-surgical options or has not discussed other surgical methods of addressing your spinal problem, it might be good to obtain a second opinion.
3. An individualized, evidence-based, surgical plan
There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to spinal surgery. No two patients are exactly the same. Our treatments are also tailored to the specifics of each case.
Just as an accurate diagnosis is an important first step in the process, the development of an individualized surgical plan that is tailored to the unique features of the patient and their anatomy is of critical importance. Without an individualized surgery plan, the spine surgery success rate will decrease.
We always try to adopt the least invasive and smallest possible surgical option to effectively address the problem at hand. If your surgeon has not discussed more than one surgical option for the treatment of your problem, it might be good to obtain a second opinion.
4. An expert, honest surgeon, who puts the patient’s interest first.
We believe that realistic expectations and honest, clear, transparent communication between the surgeon and the patient is the key to success. Dr. Saadat spends a lot of time with patients, explaining the problems and the proposed solutions, and making sure there is an accurate understanding of what is able to be accomplished.
5. Access to the latest technology
The field of spinal surgery has experienced several very important advances in the past decade, which have improved safety and precision, and allowed us to achieve better outcomes with less downtime after surgery. These include the use of advanced microscopy, minimally-invasive techniques, robotics and navigation, as well as motion-preservation techniques such as artificial disc replacement.
Dr. Saadat is proud to be a member of the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center of Excellence as well as the St Joseph Hospital Complex Spine Center, where he is able to leverage the latest technology in spinal surgery to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.