The usual risks of back surgery apply to microlaminoforaminotomy with increased risks for those who smoke, have a general anaesthetic, or have pre-existing cardiac complications and other medical conditions.  Infection is always possible with any back surgery, and patients are advised to remain vigilant for signs of post-surgical infection such as swelling, redness, leaking fluid, headaches and fever.  Antibiotics may be given prior to and post surgery to allay the risk of infection, which is thought to occur in approximately 1-2% of patients, varying between surgery types.  An advantage of micro-surgery is that the tissues around the area operated on are subjected to a lot less stress and trauma than in conventional open techniques.  By keeping these muscles and ligaments intact the surgeon speeds up recovery time and reduces inflammation and pain, although these problems can still occur.

Nerve Damage from Back Surgery

It is possible, but rare, that a microlaminoforaminotomy can cause unintentional damage to the nerves in the cervical spine or the spinal cord itself.  The surgeon may accidentally tear the dura covering the spinal canal, resulting in a leak of spinal fluid.  This is usually corrected during surgery but may, unfortunately, go unnoticed in cases where visual access is restricted.  If the spinal fluid continues to leak then it is possible for infection of the spinal fluid and the meninges to occur, resulting in spinal meningitis.  This is very rare and is not considered to outweigh the potential for significant reduction or complete alleviation of radicular pain.

Thrombophlebitis after Spine Surgery

Thrombophlebitis is less of a risk in minimally invasive back surgery techniques performed under a local anaesthetic as the patient remains somewhat mobile during the procedure and returns to activity much faster than those under general anaesthetic.  Surgical compression stockings may be worn and blood-thinning medications may be prescribed by a surgeon if there is a particular cause for concern in a patient.  It is also possible that patients have an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic or the sedative administered, although this is very rare.

Failure to reduce symptoms

Microlaminoforaminotomy is considered very effective at relieving radicular pain, paraesthesias, motor dysfunction, and numbness.  it remains, however a possibility that the surgery will not be effective at alleviating the condition.  This may be due to damage being more extensive than previously thought, and the nerve being unable to regenerate or repair.  It is also possible that more than one level of the cervical spine is suffering from compression and that another nerve is responsible in part for the patient’s symptoms.  As microlaminoforaminotomy is a single-level surgical procedure it is usually ruled out if there is evidence of disc herniation and compression across more of the cervical spine with a laminectomy, anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, or other cervical spinal surgery preferred.

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