Spine Surgery Success Rates

Many spinal surgeries offer some kind of success rate but do you the patient really understand what is meant by “success”? Obviously success means that you had a positive outcome, but to what degree. Usually conventional spinal surgeries offer a good to excellent outcome in 50 to70% of patients. Usually, but not always, good to excellent corresponds to a improvement level of 50 to 100%.  Thus, good to excellent may not mean a cure but implies usually at least 50% improvement. Some scientific papers use 25% or greater as a level of success or even any statistically significant change as evidence for success. Thus, it is important for you the patient to understand what is meant by a successful outcome. It is also important to realize that few studies offer improvement much above 80% for spinal surgeries of any type. What does all this mean? It means three things. 1. spinal surgery of any type, including endoscopic spinal surgery, is successful around 75% of time, give or take a few points and the improvement averages 75% reduction in pain for those people. 2. around 25% of the people don’t get better or have less than a 50% improvement level. This is important since with conventional surgery, those 25% may actually be worse after surgery! 3. No spine surgery is perfect in every patient and this is due to the complexity of the spine itself. Be very wary of a surgeon who says they have perfect results and if he does, ask if he can prove it. The reality is spine surgery isn’t perfect, but we at MicroSpine try to offer a minimally invasive approach that creates an incision of less than one inch with results similar or better to conventional surgery but with fewer outcomes. Honest answers from honest people.

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