Surgery of any type comes with the potential for complications, and spine surgery is no exception. If surgery is done near the spine/spinal cord and something goes wrong, these complications can be very serious. Complications could involve subsequent pain and impairment and may cause the need for additional surgery. Before surgery, you should discuss with your doctor about the complications associated with surgery.

The list of complications provided here is not intended to be a complete list of complications and is not a substitute for discussing the risks of surgery with your doctor. Only your doctor can evaluate your condition and inform you of the risks of any medical treatment he or she may recommend. Some potential complications of spine surgery are as listed as follow:

  • Anesthesia related complications
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Dural tear
  • Infection
  • Lung problem
  • Nerve damage
  • Failed back surgery syndrome*

* Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS) refers to a subset of patients who have new or persistent pain after spinal surgery for back or leg pain. The pain can be reduced but still present, or may get worse within a few months after surgery due to a buildup of scar tissue around spinal nerve roots, along with persistent tissue pain and muscle spasm. The term refers to a condition of continuing pain and is not meant to imply there was necessarily a problem during surgery. A newer term, “persistent spinal pain syndrome,” has been proposed by pain management physicians. To learn more about this topic, you can refer to below publication:

Asian Spine J. 2018 Apr; 12(2): 372–379.
Published online 2018 Apr 16. doi: 10.4184/asj.2018.12.2.372

PMCID: PMC5913031
PMID: 29713421
Failed Back Surgery Syndrome: A Review Article
James R. Daniell1,2 and Orso L. Osti1,2