The Role of Improper Surgery in the Etiology of the Failed Back Syndrome

  • Harold A. Wilkinson


In the United States, approximately two thirds of all patients enrolled in chronic pain centers suffer from the failed back syndrome. Neurosurgeons perform 100,000 operations for lumbar disc disease every year, and orthopedic surgeons perhaps perform a similar number.6 It is estimated that between 20% and 40% of these operations are unsuccessful and result in the failed back syndrome. Dr. William Sweet, former Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, has estimated that, in contrast, only approximately 10% of patients enrolled in European pain clinics suffer from the failed back syndrome.7 The reasons for this discrepancy are likely to be multiple, including, perhaps, Europeans’ greater stoicism and a less supportive acceptance of disability and non-productivity.


Placebo Arthritis Degenerative Arthritis Smoke Meningitis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold A. Wilkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of NeurosurgeryUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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