What are Complications of Spine Surgery

You should discuss the potential for complications with your doctor as part of your decision whether to undergo spine surgery. In most cases, spine surgery is safe and effective; however, like any major surgical procedure, there is the potential for complications, which vary by type of surgery, age and other health conditions.

You and your caregivers should understand and follow your discharge instructions carefully.

In the first few days after surgery:

  • Keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Monitor for any signs of infection including fever, increased redness, swelling or drainage at the incision.
  • Call your doctor if you lose feeling in your arms or legs, have difficulty urinating or controlling bowel movements or if your back pain begins to worsen and doesn’t get better with rest and pain medications.
  • Follow-up with your doctor as this is critical to the healing process.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you have any symptoms that have not been covered in your post-operative instructions.

Talk to your doctor about any other possible complications you may experience including:

  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots, for instance in your legs or lungs
  • Heart attack
  • Herniated disk
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage, which can lead to weakness, paralysis, pain, sexual dysfunction, or loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Reaction to anesthesia or other drugs
  • Stroke