How Safe is Spine Surgery

Is spinal surgery dangerous?

All surgery has inherent risks. Certainly, spinal surgery has its own set of risks which may include infection, pain at the incision site, lack of fusion, as well as neurologic complications. However, with well-trained hands, the incidence of complications differs very little than from other surgical conditions. It is important to discuss with your doctor what he feels the overall chances of a particular complication are in your given setting.

Potential Complications of Surgery

You should discuss the complications associated with surgery with your Spine specialist before surgery. The list of complications provided here is not intended to be complete and is not a substitute for discussing the risks of surgery with your Spine specialist. Only your Spine specialist can evaluate your condition and inform you of the risks of any treatment that may be recommended.

Anaesthesia — Any surgery that requires anaesthesia can be potentially harmful. Surgery on the cervical spine usually requires that you be put under general anaesthesia. General anaesthesia means that you are put to sleep. Anaesthesia carries a risk of allergies to the medications. There are also different life-threatening situations that can occur during anaesthesia. It is extremely unlikely that these complications will occur, but you should be aware that they are possible.

Infection — Any surgery involving an incision in the skin can become infected. In addition, the bone graft and area around the spine may become infected. An infection will usually require some type of antibiotic medication to treat the infection. If the infection involves the bone, it may require one or more additional surgeries to drain the infection. The risk of infection is usually less than one percent.

Blood Vessel Damage — There are large arteries and veins that travel through the neck into the brain. The carotid artery and the jugular vein are nearby. It is possible to damage these blood vessels during the surgery. Again, it is extremely unlikely that this will occur, probably less than one in a thousand.

Nerve Damage — There are nerves in the neck that travel along the area where the incision is made to perform an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion. These nerves go to the vocal chords. There is the possibility that these nerves can be damaged during surgery. This can lead to hoarseness. If this occurs, the nerves will usually recover unless they are permanently damaged or cut. Again, this is unlikely.

Spinal Cord Damage — Surgeries that are performed on the cervical spine place the spinal cord at risk for injury. Spinal cord damage is probably much more likely in the larger, more serious operations such as the corpectomy and strut grafting procedures. These are complex, difficult operations and are done for extremely serious problems that are unlikely to respond to any other type of treatment. Routine anterior discectomy and fusion are common surgeries that are extremely safe. While damage to the spinal cord is possible, it is highly unlikely.

Graft Displacement — One of the more common problems that can occur after an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion is that the bone graft may move out of position. If it moves too much, it may require a second surgery to place a new bone graft in its place.

Non-Union — In spite of a successful surgery and good bone graft, a fusion may not occur between the vertebrae. This is termed a non-union or pseudarthrosis. Usually your surgeon will be able to tell whether a fusion has occurred by looking at X-rays taken over a three- to six-month period after surgery. If a fusion does not occur and you have no pain, a second surgery will not be necessary. If you continue to have pain, and a non-union is diagnosed after surgery, your surgeon may suggest a second attempt at fusion. When trying for the second time after a failed fusion, most surgeons will usually include some type of internal fixation, such as a plate and screws.

What is minimally invasive spine surgery and how is it different from traditional spine surgery?

Traditional spine surgery typically requires long incisions in the back. Muscles are cut and separated from the spine to allow access to the spinal anatomy. Minimally invasive spine surgery is performed through small incisions in the back. Surgeons use specialized instruments and navigational tools such as interoperative x-ray, pedi-guard, microscopes and tubular retractors. Like traditional spine surgery, the goal of minimally invasive surgery is to relieve your back and/or leg pain. But it adheres to a different philosophy—that as little muscle tissue as possible should be damaged.

What are the complications of spine surgery?

Like any surgery, there are a number of complications related to spine surgery. There are certain risks of general anaesthesia that are extremely rare and include death and other life-threatening reactions to anaesthesia. In experienced and well-trained hands, risk of paralysis or permanent nerve damage are extremely rare but can unfortunately still occur even in the best of hands. People with more severe preexisting spinal cord or nerve compression are at greater risk of this. There are certain measures that I take preoperatively and intraoperatively to monitor the spinal cord and nerves closely so that I am aware of the status of the spinal cord and nerves at all times during complex spine surgery cases when working around the spinal cord and placing instrumentation.

Other risks include infection, which is lessened by the use of antibiotics perioperatiely as well as placement of antibiotics directly into the wound.

Rods, screws, and plates, may fail and break or pull out. This risk is increased in people with poor bone quality including those with osteoporosis and smokers. Therefore preoperatively I try to assess risk of this problem in my patients and take measures pre and intraoperatively to prevent the likelihood of this from happening. I also advise all smokers to quit smoking prior to spine surgery as it increases the risk of infection, hardware failure, and generally an unhappy outcome.

There is a risk of the patient not actually improving after the spine surgery. I always advise patients who have seen a spine surgeon who recommended surgery for them to seek a second opinion on whether or not surgery is indicated and what surgery should be performed. I do not take the decision to operate on someone lightly and neither should the patient. I only operate on patients who I think I can help with surgery. If I do not feel surgery will benefit you, I will advise against it

In my practice as a spine surgeon in Bangalore at Bangalore spine specialist clinic as an orthopaedic spine surgeon in Bangalore, I have come across that people in Bangalore are unaware about the  risks and benifits of spine surgery. The mistrust towards spine surgery results is still prevelant.  Bangalore spine specialist Clinic, the best orthopaedic spine clinic in Bangalore agrees with the above details relating to the spinal surgery. Best spine surgeon in Bangalore can deal with variety of spinal disorders related to back pain treatement and neck pain treatment in Bangalore. Top Spine Surgeons in Bangalore can provide proper evaluation and treatment for back pain in Bangalore

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