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What are the risks of spinal fusion?

Spinal fusion has a few risk factors, including wound infection, pain, rejection of hardware and the inability for fusion to take place.

The risks of spinal fusion depend on age, overall medical condition of the patient and the type of surgery. Some of the risks include, but are not limited to, infection, bleeding, nerve/muscle/tendon/ligament damage, paralysis, pain, numbness, deformity, loss or decreased range of motion, bowel/bladder dysfunction, dural tear, revision surgery, pseudoarthrosis, hardware failure, malpositioning of hardware, blindness, heart attack, stroke, blood clots and death. However, most of the time the benefits of the surgery far out weigh the risks of surgery. My own father had a very successful spinal fusion back surgery and has done extremely well.

As with any surgical intervention there are risks to spinal fusion surgery. Those risks have been thoroughly described by other writers. However, two additional complications can arise. Firstly, pseudoarthrosis can occur which is when there is unsuccessful fusion of the vertebrae. There may be a fibrous union between spinal vertebrae but this is insufficient to limit movement. Secondly, symptoms may recur despite surgery because the success rate is not 100 percent.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Spinal fusion surgery for lower back pain has significant risks, including infection, bleeding, nerve injury, severe pain and the need for repeat operations. Watch the video for more on spinal fusion.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.