Risks of Spinal Fusion Surgery

Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 09:35 AM

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Spinal fusion surgery is a type of surgery to join two or more than two vertebrae.

Scoliosis, a condition in which spine is abnormally curved, is treated using spinal fusion surgery. This deformity is corrected using spinal fusion surgery by fusing together vertebrae to avoid bending caused by scoliosis. The surgeon corrects the deformity caused by scoliosis by adjusting the curve by 50 percent or more. The procedure of the spinal fusion surgery is conducted by making a surgical cut in the lower back or neck, based on the part of the spine affected.
 
The reasons for undergoing spinal fusion surgery may include fractures in the vertebrae, treating pain caused by abnormal or painful motion, and for rectifying potential instability. During the surgery, the patient is under anesthesia and does not feel any pain. Recovery from the surgery-related symptoms occurs after the surgery.    
  
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Risks of Spinal Fusion Surgery
 
Risks are always associated with all types of surgeries. Some common risks associated with any type of surgery include problem in breathing; infection in the kidneys, lungs, or bladder; stroke or heart attack during surgery; or reaction to medication. Though spinal fusion surgery is safe, it can involve potential risks. Risks of swelling, redness, and pain can arise in the first few weeks following a spinal fusion surgery.
 
Infection is one of the potential risks following the surgery. Infection may occur in the vertebrae or in the surgical wound. Antibiotics given before, during, and following the surgery can help in reducing the potential risks of infection. 
 
Formation of blood clots may occur anywhere, though these are more common in the legs. Blood clots may pass to the lungs or any other vital organs, which may lead to severe complications. This is among uncommon risks but it may have dangerous results. 
 
Some bleeding may occur as one of the potential risks of this surgery, but this may not be significant.
 
Pain is one of the potential risks following surgery. Pain may arise at the location from which the bone graft is taken. After the spinal fusion surgery, stress may occur in the adjacent areas of the fused vertebrae, which may cause chronic pain.

Wear and tear of the vertebrae below and above the fused vertebrae may occur. This can cause further problems and complications.
 
Injuries may occur to blood vessels and nerves in or around the spine. Damage of spinal nerves can occur, causing pain and loss of sensation. Apart from injuries, there may be problems related to the bladder or functioning of the bowels.
 
Recovery Process After the Spinal Fusion Surgery
 
Patients should consult their doctor regarding the recovery plan to follow after undergoing spinal fusion surgery. Pain medicines are prescribed after this surgery. Following the doctor’s instructions is very important to achieve complete recovery. Recovery from lower back pain and surgery is a long process. Fast recovery depends upon the type of surgery that is performed. The fusion process may take several months for complete recovery following the surgery.
 
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Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help the recovery process. The initial recovery plan may include intravenous intake of nutrients and not eating food for two to three days. Patients undergo physiotherapy to learn how to walk and move in the right posture to aid successful recovery. Exercising or losing weight may also be included in the recovery process. Spinal fusion surgery for treating lower back pain and related symptoms is a last recourse to dealing with scoliosis, though alternative methods to help pain are under research.
 

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