A Timeline Of Potential Post-Op Spine Surgery Complications

Category: Surgery Recovery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

Everybody wants to have a great experience when it comes to undergoing and recovering from spine surgery, but the reality is that it doesn’t happen for 100 percent of patients. Some complications are more common than others, as are the times at which they tend to develop. So which complications are most common at different times during your rehab? We answer that question in today’s blog.

When Spine Surgery Complications Can Occur

Before we jump into the heart of this blog, we want to let it be known that complications after spine surgery are very rare, and we work hard to reduce their likelihood as much as possible. When we say “common” complications, we mean that these complications are the most likely to arise, but that doesn’t mean that the majority of patients experience them. The vast majority of patients do not experience significant complications, so when we use the word common when describing these complications, their incidence rate is still extremely low.

With that said here’s a look at what complications are more likely to arise at certain stages of your recovery.

The First Week – Pain and Wound Complications

Everybody has different levels of pain tolerance, so creating a perfect pain management plan can be difficult. The most common reasons someone comes back into the clinic within a week after spine surgery is to have their pain medications adjusted, or because they’ve noticed signs of an infection at the wound site, which can typically be controlled with antibiotics or other medications.

Weeks 1-2 – Cerebrospinal Fluid Leaks

Depending on your surgery, the spinal canal may needed to have been accessed, and if the opening didn’t close correctly, you could be leaking cerebrospinal fluid. This can lead to painful headaches that are only relieved by lying down. Your surgeon may perform a cerebrospinal fluid patch to seal the leak, or they can walk you through other methods to allow the leak to heal on its own.

Weeks 3-4 – Surgical Site Infections

Infections were most common during this time period, and that could happen for a number of reasons. Odds are patients are a little less careful with their management of the surgical site after a couple of weeks compared to when they were first discharged, and they may be taking on more activities which can expose them to more chances for bacteria to enter the wound site. Again, these can typically be well controlled if caught early on.

> 1 Month – Surgical Failure

Finally, the most common reason for readmission one month post-op was for surgical failure. If hardware failed to stabilize the site, a patient overstressed the area during rehab, or the area simply didn’t heal as expected, a return visit may be in order. This doesn’t always mean a second surgery is necessary, but pinpointing the problem and coming up with solutions is important at this time.

To learn how we work to prevent all these complications, or to talk to a member of our surgical staff, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi’s clinic today.

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