Understanding Non-Response in Spine Fusion Surgery

Spine fusion surgery joins two or more small spine bones (vertebrae) together. It is used to treat a variety of conditions, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, and scoliosis.

The goal of spine fusion surgery is to lessen pain at the vertebrae that are being joined by stopping that joint from moving.

There is considerable debate about the effectiveness of spine fusion surgery for degenerative disc disease. As many as 1 in 3 patients who undergo spine fusion do not report improvements in pain or functional status. Additionally, there are currently no evidence-based selection criteria to help surgeons determine which patients will respond to spine fusion surgery and which will not benefit.

CERTAIN created the Spine Fusion study to better understand which patients are more likely to benefit from spinal fusion surgery for degenerative disc disease. The Spine Fusion study partnered with spine surgery clinics and their patients to participate in research activities designed to identify the impact of spine fusion surgery on the outcomes that matter most to patients. As part of this study, patients took surveys before and after their spine fusion surgery and shared elements of their medical records for review. The Spine Fusion study has been completed as of September 2018 and is no longer enrolling participants.

CERTAIN anticipates this study will produce a paradigm that clinicians can use with patients to determine whether spine fusion surgery is right for them and address any risk factors that may impact their response to surgery.

Funded by: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases