RISKS / COMPLICATIONS OF SPINAL FUSION SURGERY
Any surgery carries a risk of complications. Spinal surgery is particularly challenging. While the chance of complications is usually small, you should know the risks and discuss any of the possibility of these complications with your surgeon. This list is not intended to be complete but describes briefly the most common risks.
Potential risks associated with any type of surgery consist of anesthesia complications, blood clots, infection, bleeding, persistent pain, and lung problems.
Complications related to spinal procedure can include neurological damages, damages to the surrounding soft tissue and, where used, instrument malfunction.
Pedicle screw fixation to the spine is the standard of care for most spinal surgeries that involve the lumbar and thoracic spine. Inserting pedicle screws during a spinal fusion procedure is considered very safe when performed by an experienced surgeon. Complications are rare but serious. Those associated with the use of pedicle screws include infection, screw or rod breakage, and complications related to misplaced pedicle screws such as nerve damage, spinal cord injury, and vascular injury. Injured nerves can provoke pain, numbness, or weakness in the region supplied by the nerve. Damage to the spinal cord can lead to paralysis in certain areas and not others. Vascular injury can cause hemorrhage.
Approximately 15% of pedicle screws placed using conventional techniques are reported as misplaced1,2, but fortunately most of them do not cause any harm.
The chance that any of these complications will occur during your surgery or follow-up rehabilitation is usually very small. Most of these complications can be treated once they are identified, but sometimes they require an extended period of hospitalization or recovery, additional medications, and occasionally even a new surgery. Discuss these complications with your doctor before surgery if you have any questions.
Several techniques to improve pedicle screw placement have been developed in the last decades.
The PediGuard® devices with DSG® (Dynamic Surgical Guidance) Technology are designed to assist the surgeon during pedicle screw placement.
Talk with your doctor about the most appropriate technique for your surgery.
1Mason A et al. Spine. 2014
2Shin BJ et al. J Neurosurg Spine. 2012