•No improvement in your back and leg pain (or worse pain).
• Infection - Signs of infection may be discharge from the wound or any swelling, redness or heat from the wound.
• Nerve damage – this is damage to the nerves in your back which can result in altered sensations to your legs, pins and needles, weakness including foot drop, loss of control to your bowel or bladder. These changes can be temporary or permanent.
• Bleeding or haematoma - collection of blood.
• Dural tears or leaks – this is when the membrane covering the spinal cord (the dura) is damaged during surgery. This may lead to nausea and headaches after surgery. It is usually treated with bedrest but occasionally may require more surgery.
• Non-union – this is when the bone does not fuse as planned. This is only determined when reviewed in clinic as the development of the bony bridge between vertebrae occurs over weeks and months. The risk is higher for patients who smoke, are obese or have been treated with radiation for cancer. It is important that you stop smoking prior to your surgery. Smoking, and the use of nicotine containing products, has been shown to be detrimental to the healing of the bone and therefore can affect the fusion of the spine.
After spinal fixation surgery it takes about three months for the vertebrae to begin to fuse, although 1-2 years are required before fusion is complete. We recommend that you have a BMI of less than 30 prior to your surgery.
You may experience discomfort in your back and hips as a consequence of spending time in one position during your operation. This should resolve over time, usually within 3-6 months.
It is normal to be in some discomfort but let the nurse know if your pain stops you from doing normal activities such as eating, sleeping, walking and going to the toilet. Following your surgery a nurse and physiotherapist will assist you to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom. The nursing staff will monitor your wound; you are advised not to shower for the first 10 days until the wound dressing is removed. You will be assessed by a physiotherapist and in some instances may be referred to an occupational therapist. You will receive your post op clinic appointments through the post following your discharge.
If you experience any of the following symptoms you should see a Doctor immediately:
• Numbness around your back passage and genital region.
• New onset of bladder or bowel incontinence.
• New numbness, pins and needles or weakness in both legs.
Following your surgery, you should avoid excessive bending, twisting and lifting and use a common sense approach. Advice for the following 3 months:
• Avoid excessive bending
• Avoid heavy lifting and twisting and use a common sense approach.
• You should not lift anything heavy for a period of 3 months.
• It is advised that you should not lift anything heavier than a full kettle of water.