Are some spinal surgeries more successful than others? The short answer is yes, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. Any spinal surgeon will tell you that every patient’s case is unique, and that post-operative recoveries and long-term outcomes also vary from patient to patient. In addition, every operation is different, whether dealing with a traumatic spinal cord injury of a degenerative condition like spinal stenosis. For that reason alone some spinal surgeries are more successful than others. Some patients may work harder at their recovery, while others may benefit from an extremely skilled surgeon. Patients don’t always define success in the same terms, and thus rate clinically identical outcomes differently. But beyond these differences in individual cases is the undeniable fact that some surgeries carry more risk or have a lower rate of clinical success than other procedures, and that some are proven to provide superior outcomes than others for treating the same condition. Spinal decompression surgery, a relatively common procedure, is an excellent example of differences in the success rates of spinal surgeries.
Spinal decompression is performed to relieve pressure on a nerve within or emanating from the spinal column, the cause of common back problems such as sciatica. The spinal decompression procedure, which involves cutting away portions of a vertebra impinging on a nerve, can dramatically reduce pain and restore mobility in many cases. However, the procedure leaves the vertebral segment weakened and in need of stabilization. Traditionally, spinal fusion surgery was performed in conjunction with spinal decompression therapy to stabilize the spine at the segment where the decompression was performed. Today the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) System is available as an alternative to spinal fusion back surgery. In clinical studies around the world, the TOPS Solution has been found to deliver superior clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery. And that’s a definition of success in just about every patient’s and doctor’s book.