Traditional fusion complications — knowing the risks

When you make the decision to undergo a traditional open spinal fusion surgery, potential complications are likely at the front of your mind. Of course, the potential for complications is a risk that you need to be aware of and accept prior to any type of surgery. However, traditional open spine fusion is a highly invasive operation and will naturally pose a higher risk of complications than a more minimally invasive spine stabilization surgery.

What is involved in traditional fusion?

Traditional open spinal fusion involves a large incision in the neck, throat, abdomen or back, depending on the location of damage in the patient’s spine. Any muscles and other soft tissues that are covering the spinal column are then cut to give the surgeon access to the affected area. The bone or disc material that is causing nerve compression is then removed and a bone graft is inserted into the space between the vertebrae formerly occupied by the damaged disc. Rods and plates are anchored into the vertebrae using screws, which hold the bones in place while healing occurs.

The highly invasive nature of a traditional fusion may cause the following complications:

  • Nerve damage
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS)

Open spinal fusion also requires overnight hospitalization and has the potential for a long and painful rehabilitation. Due to these reasons, a spinal fusion is often seen as the last resort for a patient experiencing severe pain and symptoms.

Knowing your options

If you have a degenerative spine condition and have not been able to find relief with nonsurgical treatments, you may be considering the option of spine surgery. If your physician or a spine surgeon has recommended spinal fusion, be sure that you know all of your options before consenting.

Minimally invasive surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery that takes advantage of advances in medical science.^ Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive stabilization procedures that greatly reduce the risk of the above-mentioned traditional fusion complications. For example, our infection rate is 0.49 percent,^ significantly lower than the national hospital rate of up to 19 percent. Our procedures are performed in an outpatient setting and most patients can leave our facility just a few hours after the procedure. This streamlined experience eliminates hospital-associated costs and helps patients return to their lives faster. To find out if you may be a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today to speak to one of our Spine Care Consultants.