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I am really scared of spine surgery, is it really that risky?

How successful are spine surgeries?

Are there any risks associated with spine surgeries?

These are some of the common questions asked by the patients to the doctor who suggests spine surgery. Some stats say that 80% of adult people will suffer from back pain at some point of time in their life. Back problems, particularly back pain, is third on the list of reasons why people go to a spine doctor. 

The spine is central to a complex back system that consists of bones, ligaments, and muscles. Therefore, when a person suffers from back problems, it is important to determine the underlying cause and follow an appropriate treatment plan. Spine surgery is among the treatment plan, and a spine surgeon suggests it only when the non-surgical treatment attempts fail to treat the problem. 

Many people find back surgery to be a good solution, but it might not necessarily be the right solution for every patient. The following information helps you to know whether back surgery is safe or not.

Is Spinal Surgery Dangerous?

It all depends on the context and the background problem. The simple  answer to the question is NO.All the procedures are having inherent risk built in . All surgical procedures carry some sort of risk . In the same tune, any  spinal surgery carries a certain degree of risk.  By its very nature, the fear  of spinal surgery is what makes people feel that the surgery has more chances of  problems compared to the other surgical procedures. This fear gets compounded as  spinal surgery is done around the sensitive areas of the spine & spinal cord.  Catastrophic complications like paralysis are extremely rare and they  might happen due to  some inadvertent accident or certain unforseen situations.

There is no procedure without the risk of any complication. According to studies,  the mortality rate of these procedures is relatively low. According to one study, the mortality rate among 803,949 patients who had undergone a lumbar spine surgery was reported as 0.13%. It is also rare for spinal surgery to cause complications. The level of risks involved in back surgery can be assessed based on your general health issues and the kind of surgery you undergo.

Why  Does Spinal Surgery cause fear amongst patients?

This is because the spine and spinal cord are responsible for many sensory and bodily functions like strength, sensation, and mobility. During surgery, errors or complications might affect any of these functions. In addition, a complicated surgical procedure might carry greater risks than a simple procedure. Thats is the reason inspite of increased safety, and technological advances people are fearful of spine surgery.

What Is the Success Rate of Back Surgeries?

The success rate for spinal surgeries varies from one procedure to the other. Procedures have around 80 to 95 per cent success rate  based on the condition of the patient . This is because most of the time, the success rate depends on a variety of factors such as the patient’s general health, the type of surgery, the nature of the problem, and the surgical complications that might interfere with the success of the procedure. Above all patients ‘ expectations also play an important role in surgeries. Sometimes it is possible that the patient may have unreasonable level of expectations  and this can be a major sore point. 

What Percentage of Back Surgeries Fail?

According to the estimation of some experts, around 1 to 5 percent  back surgeries might fail. The chances of failure are even higher in patients who undergo multiple back surgeries. Actually the unreasonable patient expectations and and unforeseen complications following surgeries may be the reason why these surgeries are considered failure 

What are the possible complications of the failed spinal procedure?

However, back surgeries still carry the risk of various health issues, even though the complication rate is relatively low. Listed below are a few possible complications to consider.

  • Deep venous thrombosis
  • Dural tear
  • Lung problems
  • Infection
  • Malfunctions of implanted hardware 
  • Chronic pain
  • Pseudarthrosis

There is a reduced risk of specific complications if you undergo surgery as early as possible. It would be best if you discuss about the complications with your doctor that you may experience following spinal surgery. If you have any spinal problems, consult Dr. Surya Prakash, a senior spine surgeon in Hyderabad with more than two decades of experience as a spine doctor. 


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