Risks

Spinal fusion is generally a safe procedure. But as with any surgery, spinal fusion carries the potential risk of complications.

Potential complications include:

  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Injury to blood vessels or nerves in and around the spine
  • Pain at the site from which the bone graft is taken

Beyond the immediate risks of the procedure, spinal fusion surgery changes how your spine works by shifting stress from the fused vertebrae to adjacent areas of your spine. This added stress may accelerate the process of wear and tear in the vertebral joints on either side of the fusion, causing further damage and possibly chronic pain.

Nov. 11, 2015
References
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  3. Herkowitz HN, et al. Principles of bone fusion. In: Rothman-Simeone The Spine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2015.
  4. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Center. Spine Surgery. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  5. Ask Mayo Expert. Cervical spine surgery. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
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