Onset of mental disorders in patients who developed failed back surgery syndrome

Eur Spine J. 2022 Oct;31(10):2612-2618. doi: 10.1007/s00586-022-07334-4. Epub 2022 Aug 9.


Purpose: Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS) is a complex and multifaceted condition associated with significant disability and morbidity. The purpose of this study was to investigate the association between FBSS with new incidences of mental health disorders.

Methods: Our cohort included patients diagnosed with FBSS within 12 months of a posterior fusion, laminectomy, or discectomy, identified using The International Classification of Disease, both Ninth and Tenth Revisions (ICD-9 and ICD-10). In the next step, both non-FBSS and FBSS-diagnosed patients were queried for the diagnosis of first-time occurrence of mental health disorders. The incidence of new mental health disorders was determined within 12-months following FBSS diagnosis.

Results: FBSS patients were significantly at greater risk than non-FBSS patients of developing all included mental health pathologies: Depression: OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.8-2.0, p < 0.0001); Anxiety: OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.4-1.6, p < 0.0001; Sleep Disorder: OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.7-2.0, p < 0.0001; Bipolar Disorder: OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.5-2.0 p < 0.0001; PTSD: OR 1.5, 95% CI 1.3-1.8, p < 0.0001; Panic Disorder: OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.5-2.1, p < 0.0001; Suicidal Disorder: OR 1.7 95% CI 1.4-2.0, p < 0.0001, ADHD: OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.5, p = 0.0367.

Conclusions: In the current study, patients diagnosed with FBSS were at a significantly greater risk of developing mental health pathologies. While other studies have suggested pre-surgical psychological support and treatment, the current results suggest that a post-operative psychologic care may also be warranted. By identifying potential psychosocial unforeseen obstacles that occur in patients diagnosed with FBSS, more precise treatment pathways can be developed leading to improved patient outcomes.

Keywords: Decompression; Failed back surgery syndrome; Mental health; Postlaminectomy syndrome; Spine fusion.

MeSH terms

  • Failed Back Surgery Syndrome* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / complications
  • Mental Disorders* / etiology