• Disc-space infection - this is an infection in the disc that was operated on. It is uncommon and is treated with antibiotics.
• Nerve damage - this is damage to the nerves in your neck which can lead to weakness, pins and needles, temperature changes or no feelings in your arms, legs or both.
• Bleeding or haematoma (collection of blood).
• Swallowing problems.
• Hoarseness of voice.
• Bone grafts used during surgery may not fuse properly with your bone, this may require further surgery.
• Bladder and or bowel problems - this may lead to incontinence (loss of control), which may be temporary or permanent.
• Dural tears or leaks – this is when the membrane covering the spinal cord (the dura) is damaged. This may lead to nausea, vomiting and headaches. It is usually treated with bed rest.
You must remember the main aim of your surgery is to prevent deterioration in your symptoms as opposed to fully resolving your symptoms. Some patients do notice some recovery, though this may take several months.
Everyone is different. You may experience discomfort around your wound and from spending time in one position. You may also find it difficult to pass urine and so may need a catheter for a short time after surgery. It is normal to be in some discomfort, but let the nurse know if your pain stops you from doing normal things like eating, sleeping, walking and going to the toilet.
Soon after your surgery a nurse will come and see you to work on safely getting out of bed and walking. You will be seen by a Physiotherapist who will provide post-operative advice, information on starting to exercise and advise when you are ready for home.
If you have had clips to close your wound, the nurses on the ward will arrange a referral for them to be removed usually between 5-10 days after your surgery. An outpatient appointment will be made for you to see the surgeon’s team about 6 weeks after surgery. It is usually sent to your home address if not given to you in hospital.
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 arms and legs