When the Last Resort Fails: Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

October 14th, 2017
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Las Vegas—Surgery is a last resort in seeking relief for chronic low back pain—the most common cause of disability—but unsuccessful surgery occurs often enough to warrant its own diagnostic code as failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS). The condition was examined in a well-attended session at the recent PAINWeek 2017 annual meeting.

The International Association for the Study of Pain has defined the criteria for FBSS, but Jay Joshi, MD, CEO and medical director, National Pain Centers, Vernon, Ill., offered a simpler version. “The patient ends up having the same or more pain in the same area.”

Dr. Joshi cited evidence of FBSS occurring in 20% to 40% of cases but described surgeon colleagues who deny it has ever happened to their patients. “They obviously believe that it is completely an operator-dependent phenomenon, or that the patients are lying and faking it and are a bunch of drug addicts,” he said.

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