The intervention


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Portrait du Pr Karl Schaller
Karl Schaller
Head of Division

What will happen during the intervention?

In the operating room, you will be put to sleep and then the surgeon will carry out radiological imaging to precisely locate the area(s) to set in place.

In general, the operation will last between two and six hours, depending on the technique used and the number of vertebrae to fuse. The neurosurgeon may need to insert one or two small hoses (drains or Redons) to allow the flow of blood to the incision areas. These hoses do not cause any pain and will be removed after a maximum of 48 hours.

What are the potential complications?

The following complications may occur:

  • Pain, weakness in the limbs or tingling may initially persist during the initial period in less than 20% of cases. This pain is usually temporary.
  • The bone graft does not merge correctly with the vertebrae in 5% of cases. A new intervention may then be needed if the lack of fusion causes persistent pain.
  • An infection of the wound occurs in 3 to 5% of cases. Most often, localized treatment and/or antibiotic treatment are sufficient. More rarely, it could happen that a repeat intervention is required to remove an abscess or to remove the osteosynthesis material, i.e. the material (screws, plates) that was used to set the vertebrae in place.
  • New pain appears after the intervention in 2% of cases. This pain is usually temporary.
  • A hemorrhage that requires blood transfusion may occur during the course of the intervention in less than 1% of cases.
  • Despite the use of a surgical microscope to carry out precise movements, nerve damage is always possible. This occurs in less than 1% of cases. This pressure or damage to the last lumbar roots may result in a decrease in strength or sensitivity in the lower extremities.
  • A hematoma may form on the site of the operation in less than 1% of cases. It is resorbed without any special treatment in 80% of cases. A repeat intervention is necessary on an exceptional basis.
  • Injury to the abdominal organs or large vessels (aorta, vena cave) may occur in less than 1% of cases.
Last update : 20/02/2019