Lumbar Spinal Fusion Complications

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    Infection

    • An infection is a potential complication of lumbar spinal fusion surgery. This surgery requires incisions to be made into the lower back, which can become infected after they are closed with stitches. Infections most commonly occur when the surgery-related wounds are not properly cared for. Those who have a lumbar spinal fusion will be prescribed antibiotics to prevent this complication, however, an infection can still occur.

    Urinary Problems

    • Urinary problems are another possible complication of lumbar spinal fusion surgery. These problems include urinary tract infection and urinary retention. To try and prevent this complication, the patient will have a catheter inserted into the bladder before surgery. This catheter will then be removed once the patient is able to urinate normally and is able to get around relatively well.

    Pseudoarthrosis

    • Pseudoarthrosis is a condition in which the patient's' bone graft site causes pain. This complication of lumbar spinal fusion surgery can lead to a fusion that does not heal. If it does not heal properly the screws, rods and hooks used can break, resulting in the need for an additional surgery.

    Blood Clots

    • Some patients will experience blood clots as a lumbar spinal fusion surgery complication. These clots can form in the legs and travel to the lungs, causing a host of problems including death. During and after surgery is complete, patients will be given compression boots to wear on their calves to help prevent this complication.

    Rare Complications

    • Certain lumbar spinal fusion surgery complications are considered very rare, such as paralysis and a worsening of the patient's neurological symptoms. Death is another rare outcome of this surgery; it can occur during the surgery itself, as an unresolved complication such as infection, or as a result of an allergic reaction to the anesthesia used.

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