The back or spine surgery carries a risk of the numerous postoperative complications. They can be classified according to different patterns. Mostly all the complications are divided into general complications, complications of the nerves and complications connected to implant and fusion.
General Complications after Back Surgery
Complications caused by the anesthesia are connected to the specific medications that are used in the procedure. The direct effect of anesthesia may reflect onto the lung and heart's function. Nausea and vomiting occur regularly after general anesthesia has been used. The tube which is placed into the throat may damage the vocal cord. However the damage is transient.
In case of spine surgery bleeding can occur and the intensity of bleeding depends on the organ or tissue that has been damaged. The patients who have undergone the spinal surgery may develop blood clots in veins of the legs. Deep vein thrombosis is a source of blood clots that can deattach and cause the pulmonary embolism. The patients are administered anticoagulants prophylactically and monitored for possible further complications caused by blood clots.
The tear of the dura is another complication. During the surgery this membrane can be damaged. The problem is noticed during the surgery and the surgeon simply repairs the defect. If the tear has not been noticed the cerebrospinal fluid will leak through the dura defect and lead to headache. This condition increases the risk of meningitis as well. In case that the defect does not heal on its own additional surgery is required.
Infection is one more complication after the spinal surgery. The antibiotics are administered prior and after the surgery and they reduce the risk of possible infections. The infection can be superficial. However it can even spread onto the deeper layers and tissues of the back. Sometimes the infection is so deep that already placed metal screws or plates need to be taken out.
And finally patient may suffer from chronic pain due to the operation.
During the surgery spinal nerves can get damaged. This can lead to paralysis of the area that is innervated by the damaged nerve. The very spinal cord can be injured either by surgical manipulation or by postoperative swelling. Some patients have even experienced sexual dysfunction due to the damage of the nerves that innervate the pelvic area and organs situated in pelvis.
Complication Related to Implants and Fusion
The majority of these complications are connected to improper or delayed union. They require additional surgical procedure. The things that are used in fusion such as metal screws or plates and so on can be dislocated and this also requires repeated surgery. The second surgery is conducted even in case of implant migration.
Pseudoarthrosis is another complication. This condition features with forming of a false joint. Namely the fractures bone does not heal properly and instead of complete calcification of the fractured spot the bone is partially replaced with the cartilage so that the broken fragments can move and are not fused together.