Failed Spinal Fusion Can Be Corrected, Says Spine Surgeon

Dr. Kenneth Light reports from San Francisco on results and a patient's progress after undergoing the first spinal fusion reversal procedure done in the U.S.

Online PR News – 23-December-2011 – – San Francisco, CA Spine surgeon Dr. Kenneth Light says new techniques developed to treat failed spinal fusion procedures can relieve persistent pain and help avoid further damage to the spine. Dr. Light calls the procedures “Spinal Fusion Reversal”.

The first spinal fusion reversal to be performed in the U.S. relieved years of pain for a 40 year-old woman who had a neck fusion several years ago after suffering an injury.

Until recently, the usual treatment for most patients has been a spinal fusion, done to stabilize the spine. However, says Dr. Light, spinal fusion procedures present a number of disadvantages, such as recurring pain, variable loss of range of movement in the treated areas and, in many cases further damage to the spine.

Dr. Light suggested that the patient consider spinal disc replacement. “Spinal disc replacement is an attempt to fix complicated neck and back problems,”  says Dr. Light. “Spinal disc implants are designed to maintain the range of motion in the spine.  Another benefit is reduced recovery time for most patients. “I believe that spinal disc replacement will eventually replace 70% to 80% of all spinal fusion surgeries," says Dr. Light.  

Dr. Light says that the basic principal used to perform a spinal fusion hasn't changed much in 100 years. “The actual results of spinal fusion hasn't improved in 60 years,” he says.

The patient has made an impressive recovery since her spinal fusion reversal, says Dr. Light. “She now shows greatly improved range of movement than was possible with the fusion in place, and has returned to her normal active lifestyle, including playing softball,” he says.

“Fusions are appropriate in many cases, especially when no other treatment will help,” says Dr. Light. "But there are newer alternatives that can help a person regain full movement and mobility, rather than having their vertebrae "frozen" which can lead to significant side effects and increased stress to adjacent vertebrae.”

Dr. Light believes that more physicians will begin to consider alternatives to spinal fusion in order to give patients an improved quality of life. For more information on spinal fusion, spinal disc replacement and spinal fusion reversal, visit Dr. Light's website: or call 415.673.4500.

About Dr. Light:

Dr. Kenneth Light graduated from the Cornell University College of Medicine in New York City. He completed his residency in Orhopaedic Surgery at the University of California in San Francisco., and completed a fellowship in spinal surgery under the guidance of Edward H. Simmons at the State University of New York in Buffalo.

Dr. Light was director of the spine clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, and was founder and medical director of the San Francisco Spine Center at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, is board certified with the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at University of California, San Francisco. He is currently in private practice in San Francisco where he specializes in reconstructive surgery in patients who have had failed back surgery.

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