Category: Minimally Invasive Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: October 20, 2014
There is a common myth that men should not have spine surgery because they are at an increased risk for complications compared to women. In this article, we’ll talk about where this idea came from and whether or not it’s true or false.
Debunking the Myth
First thing’s first, let’s debunk this common myth. No it is not true that men should not have spine surgery. This myth stems from the thought that male genitalia can be negatively impacted by a spine surgery requiring an anterior approach.
Remember that minimally invasive spine procedures are typically done by way of either an anterior (through the stomach) or posterior (through the back) approach. The majority of spine surgeries are posterior, as there are much fewer chance of complications going in through the back. However, there are cases in which an anterior approach is necessary, especially in a spinal fusion procedure.
Approaching through the stomach does carry more risks as the surgeon must navigate through more of the body to get to the spine. Specifically for men, any complications with the parasympathetic nerves near the lumbar spine can result in ejaculatory issues, sterility, and impotency – though these are only present in about 2% of patients. Your surgeon will walk you through all of this prior to your procedure.
That being said, the risk of these issues is very low and should not prevent a man from undergoing spine surgery if they truly need it.
Risk vs. Reward
Any surgery carries risks. But usually the rewards of having surgery (relieving pain, increasing mobility) greatly outweigh these risks. It is still good to be aware of the potential risks of your procedure. When considering spine surgery, talk to your surgeon before your procedure about the risks involved with the surgery, as well as their experience with that specific procedure.