Hospital number: ..……………………

Forename: ….………………………… Surname: …..………………………….

DOB: ….………………………………














The main aims of your spinal operation are

  • To relieve neck / arm / back / leg pain
  • To correct deformity
  • To improve your functional level and mobility

However, do not expect an instant cure. It may take 12–18 months for you to gain the full benefits of surgery.


  •        PROCEDURE:

The procedure is performed under general / local anaesthesia. During the operation, the surgeon may very rarely have to change the exact surgery described to you, but the primary aim will always be to produce the best possible outcome.



Modern anaesthesia is generally safe. Your anaesthetist will discuss with you any concerns you may have. Death resulting directly from spinal surgery is extremely rare. Other complications including bleeding during surgery,  blood clots in the leg or lung, heart attack, stroke and pneumonia may occasionally occur. These will be dealt with as necessary.


  •      RECOVERY:

After surgery you will be prescribed painkillers. Long-stay patients may have a drip, a urinary catheter and a wound drain for 24-48 hours. You will be mobilised as soon as possible, generally within 12 hours.



 ………… days   



Most patients will manage light tasks/driving by week 2-4 and should aim to return to some work and light sport by week 6.


It is your decision to proceed with surgery.  Although rare, complications do however happen and by consenting to the surgery you are accepting a small chance that something may go wrong. You may be left with a permanent impairment of function or require a second procedure to correct a complication. A description of possible complications and the risk of these happening is given overleaf.

(ISSiS 2017) 


Specific Risks & Complications

Relevant to you


Leading to



Nerve root injury

Pain/weakness/numbness in the arm / leg.

The impairment may be temporary or permanent.

1 in 60


Damage or irritation to the nerves supplying the bladder

No control or reduced control passing urine plus or minus

weakness and/or numbness in the legs.

1 in 100


Tear of the lining of spinal canal (dura)


Headache and a leaky wound. Usually sorted at surgery (1:20) but

occasionally a second operation to repair the tear.

1 in 300



Wound discharge, fever and chills.

1 in 50


Wound swelling (Seroma)

Fluid collection under the skin. Majority amenable to aspiration alone.  Occasionally wound is re-opened to drain.

1 in 60


Recurrent disc herniation

Recurrence of pain requiring second operation either within a few days or at any time in the future.

1 in 20



Need for support of ventilation.

Occasionally emergency operation to relieve the obstruction (1 in 50)

1 in 300


Oesophageal (gullet) injury

Difficulty with swallowing. Generally temporary.

Re-operation to repair the oesophagus may be needed (1in 100)

1 in 12


Recurrent laryngeal nerve injury

Hoarse voice – temporary (common) or permanent (rare).

1 in 20


Vertebral artery injury


1 in 300


Failure of bone healing (non-union)

Persistent pain. Recurrence of deformity.

1 in 6


Bone graft donor site pain


1 in 8


Hardware breakage / loosening, Dislocation of implant

Pain. Recurrent deformity. 

Probable second operation to re-position or remove any implant.

1 in 100


Pedicle screw malposition

Weakness / numbness / bleeding / lung injury

1 in 25


Intestine (gut) blockage (ileus)

Distended abdomen, vomiting and constipation.

1 in 100


Retrograde ejaculation


1 in 75


Spinal cord injury

Loss of arm and leg function: Quadriplegia / Paraplegia – permanent. 

Quadriparesis / Paraparesis – may be temporary or permanent.

1 in 2500


Risks expressed by patient








 Further information:                                                                        

  • ·         References to complications at: Spine 2011;36:2333-45.         
  • ·
  • ·                                                                  


  • ·         Secretary to Surgeon      Tel:
  • ·         Nursing sister                  Tel:                                                                                                                                          (ISSiS 2017)