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What are the risks associated with Cervical Disc Herniation surgery?

All surgical procedures present risks, which will be described, but the list is not exhaustive. They are rare in this type of intervention, which is a common procedure at most of the clinics.

These risks, however rare, are inherent in all surgical treatments. There is no percentage risk you can give yourself. This risk is individual, variable from one individual to another, depending on their history, the heaviness of the action to be performed with the help of hernia surgery instrument set.

Any treatment, even with medicines such as painkillers, has risks (see the list of side effects of your medicines).

The development of a herniated disc also carries risks in the event of a prolonged course, which can lead to paralysis as we have seen.

Risks common to all surgeries on the spine:

General anesthesia, hence the importance of the preoperative visit with the anesthesiologist

Difficulty urinating or resuming intestinal transit during the first days. These disorders most often disappear. Urinary retention may require the establishment of a urinary catheter.

Onset of phlebitis of a lower limb complicated by pulmonary embolism. Early resumption of walking reduces this risk. In the event of a risk area, an anti-coagulant treatment may be prescribed upon leaving the clinic.

Death from anesthesia or injury to a large vessel (carotid artery with profuse bleeding in front of the spine) remains exceptional. In the event of a wound on a vessel, it must then be sewn up and possibly transfused.

A wound of the esophagus and / or the trachea remains exceptional.

In case of transfusion (exceptional), risk of transmission of viral or bacterial disease.

Decompensation of pre-existing diseases (cardiac, pulmonary, renal,…) which may necessitate a change in your usual treatment.

Risks associated with herniated disc surgery:

The compressive hematoma compressing the dural sac (exceptional) immediately after surgery is a surgical emergency. It is manifested by the worsening or appearance of motor or sensory neurological disorders, quadriplegia or respiratory discomfort by compression of the trachea.

Infection of the surgical site (rare risk) requires surgical revision (washing and sampling) associated with an antibiotic treatment adapted to the found germ requiring a minimum hospital stay of 7 days.

Urinary tract infection (urinary retention, insertion of a urinary catheter) requires antibiotic treatment. Likewise, a lung infection or sepsis.

Meningitis (or infection of the meninges) is rare but very serious.

Discitis (infection of the disc) is also rare.

Neurological risk which can go as far as complete paralysis of the nerve or spinal cord (quadriplegia) remains exceptional.

The hard merian breach (envelope that surrounds the dural sac) requires bed rest in strict supine position between 48 to 72 hours immediately after surgery, in order to avoid severe headaches upon getting up. In rare cases, a pocket (meningocele) may occur requiring revision surgery, especially if CSF leaks through the scar. If this happens, it is enough to sew up the breach and glue it with a special glue (biological glue).

The recurrent nerve, which passes to the lower part of the cervical spine, can be accidentally damaged when first. You may then have temporary difficulty swallowing your saliva or speaking (recursive paralysis).

These postoperative complications are rare, may or may not require revision surgery, and may be the cause of permanent sequelae.

In the longer term, the vertebrae can weld badly together (pseudarthrosis). This risk is more common in smokers.

Due to the arthrodesis, a new hernia may form on the disc above or below the operated disc, given the stresses exerted on the adjacent discs.


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