Study outlines risks for patients of spinal surgery

28 September 2011

Orthopaedic surgery on the spine is more risky for some than others and could significantly harm quality of life, according to a new study.

Research published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery showed that complications such as deep vein thrombosis, sepsis and deep wound infections occurred in 7.6 per cent of patients 30 days after initial surgery.

The tests on 3,475 patients aged 16 to 90 between 2005 and 2008 also found that age, congestive heart failure, neurological problems, a history of sepsis, long surgical times and a poor health rating could all attribute to further complications.

Dr Andrew J Schoenfeld, co-author of the study and orthopedic surgeon, said: "Our goal was to identify medical conditions and other factors that could be addressed prior to surgery in order to further enhance the safety of spine surgery and help achieve the best results for patients."

He added that the research was done to go alongside other articles that show the benefits of spinal surgery, but this one highlights potential risks which should be looked out for.

There are two types of spinal cord injuries, namely those that leave the patient with complete loss of function and damage where the patient is left without sensation below the point of injury only.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Schoenfeld, Andrew J., et al., " Risk Factors for Immediate Postoperative Complications and Mortality Following Spine Surgery: A Study of 3475 Patients from the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program", Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, September 7th 2011.

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