Spinal surgery has made significant advance in terms of both its safety and efficacy in correcting a multitude of back problems, from traumatic spinal cord injury to degenerative diseases like spinal stenosis, spondylosis and slipped disc. Many of these advances in spinal surgery have come in recent years as a result of minimally invasive microsurgical tools and techniques. Nonetheless, back surgery is a serious operation, and surgical candidates need to be aware of all facets of the operation they’re considering – not only the benefits of the surgery, but the potential risks. One of the risks of spinal surgery is that of developing blood clots.
Any injury to the body increases the risk of a blood clot, as the injury stimulates the clotting process. Surgery constitutes an injury or trauma, and the body responds accordingly. In fact, spinal surgery – which the body interprets as an injury to the spinal cord – can lead to the formation of blood clots within the veins. Should such clots become dislodged, they can clog a blood vessel as it narrows, causing a stroke or heart attack, possibly resulting in paralysis or death. Proper postoperative care, medications, and the patient’s active role in the recovery process can minimize the risks of blood clots.
Anyone considering back surgery should also be aware that some procedures for treating a spinal problem may present lower risks or provide better outcomes than others. For example, the TOPS™ (Total Posterior Solution) procedure, which may be performed after spinal decompression surgery in order to stabilize the spine, provides better clinical outcomes than spinal fusion surgery, which was the traditional choice for spine stabilization before the introduction of the TOPS system. The TOPS solution has the added benefit of preserving the spine’s full range of motion, unlike spinal fusion, which permanently fuses adjacent vertebrae. If you’re a candidate for back surgery, make sure you understand not only the upsides and downsides, but also all the alternative surgical solutions that can help you minimize the already low risks associated with advanced spinal procedures.