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Incorrrectly diagnosed spinal cases cause ‘failed back surgery syndrome’.

Posted Mar 15 2010 7:59am

Consultant orthopaedic surgeon Khai Lam writes…

Lumbar canal spinal stenosis is a condition that is caused by a triad of a bulging disc, thickened ligament (ligamentum flavum) and facet joints. The spinal canal gradually becomes narrowed with time and this can cause debilitating low back and/or leg pains, i.e. sciatica. Although the majority of patients have mild to moderate symptoms and respond well with physiotherpay and injections, e.g. nerve injection, more disabled individuals with a more chronic and disabling condition may be a candidate for surgical interventation.
This decent study presented at the 2010 American Academy of Orthoapedic Surgeons confirms my long term experiences in the management of spinal stenosis. The condition needs to be accurately diagnosed before going onto surgery. This can be performed via minimal invasive surgery thereby allowing patients to be discharged the same day completely pain free and return back to work within 1 – 2 weeks. Conventional open surgery leads to more blood loss, more pain, lengthier hospital stay and delayed return back to work or sports by 6 – 8 weeks.

Additionally, incorrrectly diagnosed cases that may require additional screw fixation to the spine, i.e. spinal fusion, is a notorious cause of ‘failed back surgery syndrome’ after spinal decompression for lumbar canal stenosis. Therefore it is  mandatory for patients seeking advice regarding surgery be reviewed by a spinal surgeon that is competent at making an accurate diagnosis followed by a stepwise management and counseling of the condition before possibly considering minimal invasive surgery.

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