Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Cost Effective Treatment For Failed Back Surgery

Patients who undergo surgery to relieve back pain will oftentimes find that the surgery failed and that their low back and leg pain returns. Reoperation is not always a viable solution and with each failure, successful pain reduction becomes less and less; with patient's rarely improving. However, recent findings in a study published as a Research Letter in the journal Pain Medicine suggests that a simple procedure could help relieve pain symptoms in patient's whose back surgery failed.


From the Boston University School of Medicine article "The Simplified Epiduralysis After Laminectomy/fusion (or SEAL) was performed on 30 patients who continued to experience low back and leg pain after back surgery. Short-to moderate-term pain relief was reported in 74 percent of these patients. Nearly 40 percent reported greater than 50 percent pain relief. After three years of follow-up, only one patient went on to repeat lumbar spine surgery."


lower back pain treatment

SEAL involves breaking up scar tissue or adhesions that are pushing against the spinal nerves. To achieve this, an epidural is placed near the post-surgical site using a low-cost epidural kit standard in obstetric care. Unlike other methods involving complex procedures and implantable devices, the SEAL method is both minimally invasive and low cost, requiring only an outpatient visit to complete the procedure.


"SEAL could be an efficacious intervention for failed back surgery with a simplified procedure, lower costs, shorter procedure times and minimal adverse events", - stated Michael Perloff, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Boston University School of Medicine and author of the letter.


Although the findings are preliminary, and Perloff cautions they could show bias, they are promising and clinical trials are planned for next year.


Read more about the cost effective treatment for failed back surgeries at Boston University School of Medicine.