My neighbor is 91 years old and planning to have a spinal fusion for chronic low back pain. They say the problem is just degeneration from age. Isn't 91 too old for this kind of surgery?

This is the very question a group of doctors at the Cleveland Spine Clinic asked in a recent study. They compared the results of spinal fusion for spine degeneration in two age groups. One group was younger than 65 years old. The second group was 65 or older.

Patients in both groups had a posterior fusion by the same surgeon. Type of fusion varied based on age. Older patients had a more conservative operation. Older patients had more medical problems than younger patients. Hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease were at the top of the problem list.

Even so, the older group did just as well as they younger group. They stayed in the hospital longer but had fewer second or repeat operations.

The researchers concluded that age shouldn't be the deciding factor in spinal fusion surgery.