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What Are the Risks of Spinal Surgery?

by Louise W. Rice

Every surgery comes with risks. While surgeries are meant to fix certain problems and potentially life-threatening conditions, they can also lead to complications and death if they’re not performed correctly. Spinal surgery is one procedure that can lead to various complications.

Whether you’re about to go through spinal surgery or have a loved one who needs to undergo this procedure, you need to know the risks. Now, your doctor will most likely explain the potential complications to you before the surgery begins, but it’s best to be prepared and informed in advance.

In this article, you will find detailed information regarding the risks that are associated with spinal surgery.

1. Infection

Although this is a very rare occurrence, you may experience an infection after your surgery. Usually, this is the result of an infection that exists in the skin incision but ends up spreading around your spinal cord, as well as the vertebrae, causing issues.

If the infection is only at the skin incision, the good news is that it can be more easily treated. However, if it ends up reaching deeper, it is more severe and will require more care.

Before the surgery, you will take antibiotics – this helps decrease the likelihood of an infection. But if you still end up getting an infection, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about it so it can be treated right away.

2. Anesthesia Risks

Similar to other surgeries, spinal surgery will require anesthesia. Undergoing surgery without it would be very painful – therefore, doctors will offer local anesthesia or general anesthesia, depending on the case.

Local anesthesia focuses on the area surrounding the surgical procedure. The tissue and skin will become numb, so the surgery will be painless.

Meanwhile, those who are put under general anesthesia will be asleep throughout the entire surgery. There will be machines taking care of your functions and notifying the anesthesiologist in case of any issues.

Generally, the anesthesia will simply dissipate after the surgery is over. Other people experience complications related to the anesthesia.

Considering spinal surgery usually involves general anesthesia, this could lead to some problems. Anesthesia risks include brain damage, heart attack, stroke, seizures, blood pressure changes, and even death. It’s also possible to experience allergic reactions to the medications, while some may deal with breathing tube complications, a sore throat, swelling of their throat, or damage to their lips or teeth.

Fortunately, anesthesia complications are not that frequent.

3. Bleeding

You’re undergoing spinal surgery, and just like with any surgery, there will be some blood loss. An incision is necessary to perform the surgery. Most of the time, blood loss is minimized through the careful operation of the surgical wound.

Nevertheless, sometimes, even the most careful handling of the wound can lead to issues. The major blood vessels may be harmed, and this will cause more bleeding, which can be risky if it’s not taken care of.

4. Lung Issues

It may seem strange to some people, but lung issues can appear in some individuals who had spinal surgery. Being under general anesthesia can result in the lungs malfunctioning because of the medications used. Not only that but lying in bed can also affect the function of the lungs.

So, to make sure your lungs work properly after the spinal surgery, there are a few things you need to do. The healthcare professionals will ask you to breathe in deeply and also cough a lot. You might also have to get out of bed to give the lungs more power.

5. Blood Clots

Anyone who undergoes surgery is at risk of developing blood clots in their legs, particularly when the surgery involves the lower extremities or pelvis. Your body will work hard to stop the bleeding resulting from the procedure, and clotting can come as a result of that. If there were any injuries around the site of the surgery, clots also have a higher chance of forming.

Blood clots will have a few warning signs, such as pain in your calf, redness and/or tenderness, particularly below or above the knee, and swelling in the foot, ankle, or calf.

Final Thoughts

There are risks associated with any surgery, including spinal ones. However, if the complication comes as a result of a doctor’s negligence and leads to death, the deceased’s loved ones can file a wrongful death claim. In California, people can get up to $250,000 in a wrongful death claim, although heirs that suffered economic losses can get even more. If you’re ever in this case, you can hire Beverly Hills wrongful death lawyers.

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