What Problems Are Most Likely to Happen During Spine Surgery?

Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: August 14, 2017

Spine Surgery Problems

Even the most minor of surgical procedures carries with it some risks, but doctors and medical staff are always working hard to reduce the likelihood of problems or complications. One way in which medical teams work to prevent problems is by reviewing which mistakes are occurring and working hard to correct these issues.

A recent study published in Spine did just that. Researchers looked at 415 spine surgeries at a single unnamed institution. Researchers found that there were 42 documented accidents during 35 of the procedures. Let’s take a look at the most common accidents and see how they can be prevented.

Common Accidents During Spine Surgery

There was at least one accident or complication in 35 of the 415 tracked spinal surgery operations, which comes out to an 8.5% complication rate. That’s obviously higher than a surgical center would like, but you have to remember that doctors aren’t operating on perfectly healthy patients. Some are greatly overweight, others have unknown allergies to medications and others have other health conditions that increase the likelihood of a complication. Doctors work hard to minimize these risks, but at the end of the day it’s impossible to prevent all complications.

Here’s a look at some of the study’s findings:

  • 68 percent of accidents were caused by the physician, 8.5 percent occurred as a direct result of a non-physician, while the rest were caused by other forces. This may seem high, but the surgeon is the one who is doing most of the work, and an accidental slip of the hand or an incomplete surgery can lead to problems.
  • 40 percent of cases occurred in the operating room, 9.5 percent occurred outside the operating room, and the rest occurred outside of the surgical center.
  • Accident rate was similar between experienced and less-experienced surgeons.
  • The most common problems that arose were medication related, line and tube problems and slips and falls. Other problems that developed due to long-term prone position placement include ulnar nerve palsy and laryngeal edema.

As you can see, a number of accidents that occur “during surgery” are not caused by the surgeon or the medical team. Accidents like slip and falls can be nobody’s fault, and medication reactions can occur simply because a patient and doctor is unaware that the patient is allergic to the solution. Doctors and patients can’t prevent every type of surgical accident.

Reducing the Risk of Complications

However, there are things the surgeon and patient can do to reduce their risk of complications. On the doctor’s side, a doctor can do a thorough review of patient’s history and potential allergies, and they can establish a clear routine during surgery to make sure the medical staff are helping to reduce accident potential. On the patient side, we just ask that you try to eat a healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight and that you are open and honest about your medical history and any known allergens. Clear communication between both parties and a group effort on the part of the medical staff can greatly reduce the amount of preventable errors during surgery.

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