Spinal Stenosis Surgery Complications

Spinal stenosis surgery complications do occur and should be considered prior to making a decision to have surgery for back pain, neck pain, or other issue arising from spinal canal narrowing (spinal stenosis). Complications can often be prevented by following the guidance given for pre-surgical changes in lifestyle, diet, medications and so forth, but some are simply the result of extensive damage having occurred prior to surgery as well as trauma caused by the surgery or during the recovery period.

Blood Clots

Surgery for spinal stenosis is often performed while the patient is under general anaesthetic. This means that the patient is immobile and that there is a risk of blood clots forming in the deep veins of the legs. Surgical stockings can help to stop blood pooling in the legs during the procedure and patients are usually encouraged to get moving as soon as possible after surgery, even if this is just a gentle walk across their hospital room or a series of leg stretches in their bed. Some patients are given medications to help prevent deep vein thrombosis if they are considered at particularly high risk of this spinal stenosis surgery complication.

Spine Surgery Infection

Whenever the body is opened up, even in a minimally invasive spinal stenosis surgery procedure, there is a risk of infection developing. Patients taking immunosuppressant medications are at higher risk of this kind of complication and may need to adjust such medication or take prophylactic antibiotics; their surgeon or physician will advise accordingly. Following the guidance for spinal stenosis surgery recovery will reduce the risks of infection, such as keeping any wounds clean and dry and avoiding specific stretches or movements that may compromise healing and leave the wounds open for longer.

Spine Surgery Nerve Trauma

Spinal stenosis surgery complications may not result from the surgery itself but could be due to damage incurred prior to surgery that cannot be rectified. This is particularly problematic where spinal stenosis has persisted untreated for a long time and where nerve trauma is extensive, even with severed nerves that cannot regrow. Surgical accidents do also occur on rare occasions, especially where visual access to the spine is difficult to achieve. The presence of osteophytes, herniated disc material, and other spinal abnormalities may obstruct the view of the surgeon, particularly in endoscopic spinal stenosis surgery procedures and this increases the risk of nerves being accidentally bruised or severed.

Spinal Stenosis Surgery Complications

There are numerous possible complications that can occur after spinal stenosis surgery, with the failure of the surgery to relieve the symptoms one of the most common. Infection rates have been reduced substantially in recent years, as has the incidence of deep vein thrombosis. The increasing complexity of some procedures does mean that hardware failure has become a significant issue in addition to problems of antibiotic-resistant infections contracted during the hospital stay itself. Rare problems include tears of the meninges that can lead to infection of the spinal cord and the central nervous system. Where such accidents occur they are usually spotted during surgery and are repaired at the time. Therefore, the possibility of back surgery failing to relieve spinal stenosis symptoms continues to be the most pressing concern for most patients when assessing the risks of spinal stenosis surgery complications.

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