How Dangerous is Thoracic Spine Surgery?

Thoracic spine surgery is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. Learn about the potential complications and outcomes before making a decision.

How Dangerous is Thoracic Spine Surgery?
How Dangerous is Thoracic Spine Surgery?
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Any procedure carries the possibility of complications. These consequences can be severe when surgery is performed close to the spine and spinal cord. Possible complications include the need for additional surgery as well as lingering pain and disability. The risks of surgery should be discussed with your surgeon before the procedure. We will answer the most asked question, "How dangerous is thoracic spine surgery?"The list of potential complications offered here is not meant to be comprehensive. It should be different from a conversation with your doctor about the potential risks of surgery. Only your doctor is qualified to assess your health and warn you of any potential dangers associated with any recommended medical procedures. We suggest you book a consultation with a doctor at the Paras HMRI Hospital Patna through the Credihealth website.Read Also: Pain in Spine: Which Diagnostic Test Do I Need?

Why is treating the thoracic spine more challenging?

A discectomy, in which a spinal surgeon removes the bulging disc fragment, is the typical treatment for disc herniation. To stabilize the spine, it may occasionally be necessary to eradicate a degenerative disc and fuse the nearby vertebrae.Surgery for a cervical or lumbar herniation is significantly simpler than surgery for a thoracic disc herniation. The ribs and sternum, which stabilize the thoracic region and reduce the risk of disc herniation, make it more challenging for a surgeon to access the area. The heart, lungs, and other crucial organs are located in the thoracic cavity.Due to these difficulties, there is a higher chance that thoracic discectomy will result in complications like respiratory problems and irreparable spinal cord injury. Because of this, few spine surgeons carry out the operation.Spine surgeons traditionally carried out thoracic discectomy using either an anterior (front) or a posterior (back) approach. The anterior approach may result in broken ribs and breathing tubes, necessitating a cardiothoracic surgeon's help. The sensitive spinal cord restricts the surgeon's access to the front of the spine, and the posterior approach necessitates substantial muscle cutting.Also Read: Ankylosing Spondylitis: Treating a Stiff Spine

How dangerous is thoracic spine surgery?

thoracic spine surgeryThoracic spine surgery comes with a few risks, like any other surgery. Let's talk about those in detail below.

Complications of anesthesia

For most surgical procedures, some form of anesthesia must be administered beforehand. This prevents you from sensing or being aware of the procedure. The majority of spinal surgeries call for general anesthesia. You are put to sleep fully throughout the surgical operation with general anesthesia. Medications are infused through intravenous lines (IVs) to put you to sleep. While you are unconscious, specialized equipment will breathe for you, check your vital signs, and notify the anesthesiologist of any issues. General anesthesia may cause complications in a very tiny percentage of patients. Adverse drug reactions, issues with your underlying medical conditions, or issues with anesthesia may bring on these issues.Read Also: Spinal Metastases: Can Spine Cancer Spread?


Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) is the medical term for when blood clots develop inside the veins of the legs. This is a frequent issue after several surgical operations. The normal flow of venous blood from the legs back to the heart is halted by blood clots clogging the legs' deep veins. The impacted limb swells and hurts as a result. If the blood clot in the vein does not disintegrate, the swelling may develop into persistent pain and swelling that lasts a lifetime. Although this might sound harmful enough, the threat that a blood clot actually poses is significantly worse.When a blood clot forms, a part of it may become loose and travel down the leg veins to the lung, where it may become lodged in the tiny arteries of the lung. By doing this, the blood flow to the obstructed area of the lung is cut off. The blocked part of the lung can't live and might even die. A pulmonary embolism is what this is known as.Read Also: Spine Surgery: Benefits & Risks

Lung Issues

Taking care of your lungs after surgery is essential for the outcome of your procedure. To ensure that you get enough oxygen to the body tissues that are trying to recover after surgery, it's critical that your lungs are functioning at their peak. If the lungs are not appropriately exercised following surgery, this might cause low blood oxygen levels and possibly pneumonia (a lung infection).Numerous factors could prevent your lungs from functioning correctly following surgery. The drugs used for the anesthesia may temporarily impair lung function if you underwent surgery while sedated using a general anesthetic. This is one justification for always recommending a spinal-type anesthetic.Also Read: Spine Cancer: Treatment & Recovery Time

Hardware Breakage

Metal screws, plates, and rods are frequently used in various spine surgeries to hold the vertebrae in place while the process heals. The term "hardware" refers to these metal objects. The hardware normally does not do much when the bone has healed. Sometimes the hardware can break or migrate from its proper location before the surgery is fully healed. A "hardware fracture" is what is happening here. If this happens, it might be necessary to do a second operation to either replace or remove the hardware.

Spinal Cord Damage

There is a chance of spinal cord damage whenever the spine is operated on. Serious injury to the nerves or the dura, the covering of the spinal cord, may result from this. A column of nerves connects your brain and the rest of your body, called the spinal cord, which gives you control over how you move. Your spinal cord's nerve fibers divide into pairs of nerve roots that pass through the tiny spaces (foramina) between your vertebrae. Specific sections of your body are connected to the nerves in each spinal cord region. Depending on which spinal neurons are impacted, damage or any injury to the spinal cord can result in paralysis in some locations but not others.Read Also: Spine Surgery FAQ

Dysfunctional Sexuality

The nerve signals that enable the rest of your body to operate, experience sensation, and even have sex are carried by the spinal cord and spinal nerves. Numerous issues can arise from damage to the spinal cord and the surrounding nerves. A damaged nerve that enters the pelvic area may lead to sexual dysfunction.

Transient Sickness

The spine's ability to function as a chain of repeated segments is one of the spine's intriguing characteristics. Each spine segment cooperates to distribute the load along the spinal column when the entire spine is healthy. Each segment cooperates with its neighboring segment to share the stresses brought on by motions and forces operating on the spine. But the neighboring segments must carry a heavier burden when one or two parts aren't functioning correctly. Most of the additional stress is placed on the portion closest to the non-working segment. This means that the spinal segment near the operation site starts to experience additional stress if one or more spine levels are fused. This may eventually cause pain in the injured section due to increased wear and tear on the affected segment over time. Because it manifests where one normal spine region transitions into an aberrant region that has been fused, this illness is known as a transitional syndrome.Read Also: Questions to Ask Before Spine Surgery


Hopefully, we have answered your question and informed you of the potential dangers regarding thoracic spine surgery. If you are considering going through a thoracic spine surgery, you can consult a spine surgeon at the Paras HMRI Hospital Patna through the Credihealth website.Read Also: Back Pain? Take these Spine tests
Categorized into General Health , Orthopaedic