Recognizing and Preventing Post-Surgical Complications

Spinal Surgery

With advanced procedures performed by highly trained and experienced surgeons, spinal surgery today boasts highly successful outcomes. Yet complications can and do occur during the recovery process after surgery. The spinal surgery patient serves as the first line of defense, taking an active role in managing his or her recovery.

Infection is one post-operative risk. Infections occur in about one to two percent of patients who have back surgery. You will be prescribed antibiotics as part of your recovery regimen, and instructed in how to care for your surgical incision. It’s important to carefully follow all of your physician’s directives to minimize the chances of infection occurring.

Pneumonia is another post-surgery risk. Again, taking an active role in your recovery is the best way to avoid this or other respiratory problems. Post-operative respiratory difficulties are exacerbated by inactivity and shallow breathing. The sooner you get up and about, the less chance of post-operative pneumonia.

In spinal fusion back surgery, on rare occasions the bone graft doesn’t heal properly, called “failure of fusion.” Spine fusion surgery is typically performed to stabilize the spine following the treatment of spinal stenosis, pinched nerves and other conditions by spinal decompression surgery. The chances of failure of fusion occurring are greatly increased for smokers, or by nicotine use of any kind, including nicotine patches. Such is the concern about the impact on spinal fusions that some hospitals check the urine of patients prior to surgery to ensure that they have no nicotine by-products in their systems. Another complication of spinal fusion is that it has been shown to promote the degeneration of adjacent vertebrae. Today the TOPS (Total Posterior Solution) System provides an alternative to spinal fusion performed in conjunction with spinal decompression therapy. The TOPS System has been proven in clinical studies conducted around the world to provide better clinical outcomes and few complications than spinal fusion. The more you know about the surgical options available to you, the more you can minimize your chances of post-surgical complications.