below is a link to an interesting article on back surgery. its afew years old but still relatively current, written by Jerome Groopman http://www.jeromegroopman.com/articles/knife-in-the-back.html
"Jerome Groopman, M.D. is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and one of the world's leading researchers in cancer and AIDS. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and has written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, along with several books.