The Dangers and Complications of Open Back Surgery

Back surgery, also known as spinal decompression, is an operation which aims to change the anatomy of a patient s spinal cord, including with the intention of giving pain relief by eliminating any painful herniated discs. The disc occurs between the vertebrae and the lumbar spine, serving to provide the stable framework on which the nerves of the spinal cord pass. Discs can bulge due to wear and tear, osteoarthritis and even accidental trauma. When they become compressed, it results in symptoms like pain and tingling, and even in more severe cases, permanent nerve damage which may result to paraplegia, quadriplegia or even paralysis.

Back surgery can be divided into open and closed, also known as Spinal Decompression and fusion. In the former, the surgeon makes a small incision in the back of the patient’s neck or in the back itself, where he removes a portion of the vertebrae. Surgeons who perform open back surgery do not need to make a full incision because the opening made is much smaller, and thus there is less tissue to be removed. Furthermore, an open approach has the advantage of being easier to repair post-surgery, as well as increasing the patient’s chances of full recovery.

If there are certain common factors between the two types of back surgery, it is the duration and the complexity of the procedure itself which increases the risk. While a full disc replacement will reduce the risks of complications, it will also take longer for the patient to recover. In order to prevent the development of more serious complications, physicians often prefer patients who choose spinal fusion over Spinal Decompression. With this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision on the back of the patient, but does not remove any nerves or spinal discs, so the recovery time is relatively short. However, there is always the possibility that these new procedures may cause some new or developing risks, which is why it is essential to consult with your doctor before choosing one option or the other.