Failed Back Surgery Syndrome

Failed back surgery syndrome is a condition in which the patient continues to feel pain after having back surgery. Spinal surgery is used to correct anatomical problems in the spine that cause pain with methods such as correcting deformed structures, decompressing pinched nerves, and stabilizing the spine for safe movement. Patients with failed back surgery symptoms may experience the same pain as before surgery and/or discomfort of a different kind (such as numbness, weakness, stiffness, sharper pain, or more diffuse pain) or in a different area of the body.

The causes of persistent pain may not be easily known -- it may be that the surgery was unsuccessful in decompressing the nerve, the cause of the original back pain was not addressed, there was unforeseen nerve damage, the patient has a recurring disc herniation, the spinal fusion failed, or the procedure was unsuccessful for some other reason.

Before moving forward with treatment, doctors will recommend a number of tests to pinpoint the cause of the persistent pain before recommending a treatment (and potentially another back surgery). According to the diagnosis, a physician may recommend any combination of anti-inflammatory medications, narcotics, neuromodulatory medications, nerve block injections, electrical stimulation of the spinal cord, and additional surgery.

Back to Spinal Conditions

MedStar Washington Hospital Center Now Offering Novel Robotic Platform to Diagnose Lung Conditions

WASHINGTON – MedStar Washington Hospital Center became first in the Mid-Atlantic region to offer a new innovation designed to allow physicians to diagnose small peripheral lung nodules with greater precision and accuracy. These small masses or spots can be very difficult or nearly impossible to reach with traditional bronchoscopes. Auris Health’s Monarch™ Platform includes a flexible robotic endoscope that doctors use to navigate deep into the lungs and obtain tissue samples for biopsy to determine if lung disease or cancer is present. To date, seven patients have undergone the procedure at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women, in part because it has no symptoms in its early stages,” said John F. Lazar, MD, director of Thoracic Robotic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. “The Monarch Platform provides excellent reach, vision and control for bronchoscopic procedures, transforming how we diagnose suspicious nodules in the lung. We are excited about the promise of this technology and are hopeful that it will have a positive impact on our future patients battling lung disease.”

Currently, there are a variety of diagnostic options available for lung conditions, but all have limitations in accuracy, safety, or invasiveness. These limitations can lead to false results or side effects, such as collapsed lung and bleeding, which may extend hospital stays. The development of new advanced technologies, like the Monarch Platform, could allow the opportunity to make an earlier diagnosis, potentially saving many lives.

A multi-disciplinary team consisting of Dr. Lazar and Dr. Jessica Wang Memoli from Pulmonary, Critical Care and Respiratory Services lead the lung health program at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. This partnership between medicine and surgery allows patients to receive the most comprehensive evaluation and treatment.

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MedStar Washington Hospital Center is a 912-bed, major teaching and research hospital. It is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in the nation’s capital, among the 100 largest hospitals in the nation and a major referral center for treating the most complex cases. Its cardiology program is highly acclaimed and its cardiac surgery program has consistently earned the highest national rating–three stars–from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. It also is a respected top facility in the areas of cancer, diabetes & endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, gastroenterology & GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, pulmonology and urology. It operates MedSTAR, a nationally-verified level I trauma center with a state-of-the-art fleet of helicopters and ambulances, and also operates the region’s only adult Burn Center.