5 Spine Surgery Complications & Prevention Tips

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 11, 2016

spine surgery complications

Spine surgery is a delicate and intricate process that requires a skilled team of surgeons focused on every aspect of your care. As with any operation, complications are possible, but modern medicine is doing a better job of preventing these complications from arising. Today, we take a look at some of the more common complications that can arise during or after back surgery, and how surgeons work to prevent them.

Excessive Bleeding

The body naturally sends blood to areas of trauma, and surgery is a very controlled trauma on your body. Unfortunately, you can lose blood during the procedure or if something doesn’t quite go as planned during the early stages of recovery. If you suffer from excessive bleeding, your body may not be able to get the vital nutrients and oxygen needed. Doctors help prevent blood loss by having matched blood ready in the event you need a donation, and they are moving towards minimally invasive surgical procedures to lessen the wound opening and the possibility for bleeding.


Infection is a possibility with any surgery, but there are a number of ways surgeons work to reduce the risk of an infection. Any infection in the spine can be very serious, so doctors attempt to lessen the risk by disinfecting the surgical site, preventing foot traffic in and out of the operating room, sterilizing their hands and their equipment and changing wound dressings at regular intervals.

Nerve Damage

There’s a potential for nerve damage any time that surgery is performed on the spine. Nerves branch off from all areas of your spine, and one tiny mistake by the surgeon can nick a nerve and cause severe problems. Doctors and surgeons help to prevent nerve damage by discussing each step of the surgical process with their team, by practicing on 3D models and by using the assistance of a robotic device.

Failed Surgery

Surgery can “fail” for numerous reasons. Maybe the hardware failed to stabilize the spine or you returned to physical activity too soon after the operation. It’s difficult to prevent specific hardware failures, but you can prevent setbacks after surgery by listening to your doctor’s instructions, by following physical therapy protocols, and give giving your body ample time to recover after the shock of surgery.


If you’re undergoing spine surgery, you’re going to have pain at some point during recovery. Pain is sometimes a complication of surgery, while other times it is simply an unavoidable outcome. The best way to prevent pain is to talk with your doctor about the expectations before, during and after surgery. Talk to your doctor about how much pain you should expect, and how it is going to be handled. If you know to expect pain, and you’ve developed a plan to account for it, you’ll be able to avoid any unexpected flare-ups.

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