Back Surgery Complications
Back Surgery Complications
Many people will experience back pain at some point in their life but most of this pain can be relieved through traditional treatment or just lots of rest until the problems heals itself. However there are some instances when surgery is necessary.
All surgical procedures come with risks and it is often advised to explore all other alternatives before undergoing surgery. The risk of back surgery complications is quite high mainly because the surgery is performed quite close to the spinal cord which makes it a very delicate procedure where both biological and mechanical problems may arise. The risks of back surgery should therefore be carefully considered before deciding to undergo the procedure. The patient should ask the doctor and be well informed of the potential back surgery complications. These complications could include;
Infection - This is a risk in all surgical procedures and is of primary concern to the surgeon. Infection can occur in the skin or deeper into the surgical wound. If the surgery requires bone grafting and the use of special hardware the risk of infection is much higher. The surgery’s proximity to the spinal cord means infection is potentially life threatening. However the risk of infection is less than 1%.
Anesthetic Risks - most of back surgery complications related to anesthesia arise because a majority of back surgeries are performed under general anesthesia. Though rare, some patients have allergic reactions to the drugs used and can go into anaphylactic shock. General anesthesia can cause lung infection, increase the risk of heart attack, stroke or embolism. Nowadays more surgeries are performed under local anesthetic which poses a much lower risk than general anesthetic and lessens back surgery complications and recovery time.
Spinal fluid leaks - this occurs when the dura (the membrane surrounding the spinal cord) tears during surgery and leaks spinal fluid. This tear is often noticed and corrected during surgery and if not may even resolve itself. However there are instances where this tear does not repair itself and causes pain, headaches, infection and meningitis. In such cases a second surgery will be necessary to repair the damage.
Nerve damage - there is heightened risk of damage to the extremely sensitive spinal nerves and nerve roots near the spine. The slightest damage can cause loss of sensation, muscle weakness in the area of the body the nerve supplies. Paralysis is even possible when the spinal cord or certain other nerves are damaged. However, this very seldom occurs with todays advanced technology. Other back surgery complications related to nerve damage include sexual dysfunction and loss of bladder or bowel control.
Blood clots - of all back surgery complications this is one that has a high chance of occurring. With any surgery there is a heightened risk of developing blood clots, especially in the large veins of the leg called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This happens because the body reacts to surgery as it would to a wound, hence its blood clotting mechanism runs at full steam preventing extreme blood loss. However DVT can cause pulmonary embolism (a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lung) a very serious and often fatal condition.
As mentione earlier, with any surgery there can be complications. This article is to inform the reader concerning possible back surgery complications. However, these complications occur in a very small percentage of cases.
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