Ways to avoid complications during spinal surgeries

Surgical complications may be caused by the patient or arise unexpectedly. During spinal surgeries, patients are often given a general anesthetic called “twilight anesthesia” to mitigate the risk of these complications. This article discusses ways to avoid complications during spinal surgeries, so you and your surgeon have smooth sailing while in the operating room. By following these tips, better communication and cooperation will foster a positive surgical outcome.

Common ways to avoid complications

1. Communicate with your surgeon. 

The single most reliable way to avoid complications during surgery is to understand what is going on in the surgeon’s mind before entering the operating room and why certain matters should be handled. There are several ways to do this.  For example, if you have any concerns, ask during your pre-admission visit or the phone consultation when you call to schedule your appointment with your surgeon. Meeting with surgeons face-to-face is helpful because they can explain procedures in detail and debate all of your questions. In addition to understanding your surgeon’s viewpoint, it is also essential that you know the operation’s demands and how much time it will take from initial check-in to arrival at your room.

2. The surgical team.  

Ensure that you know who will be assisting in your surgery and their qualifications. Your surgeon might not perform all the parts of your procedure, which is why you must discuss who does what before surgery. This way, if you get any complications afterward and wonder who did what, you know whom to address and how they might be able to help you.

3. Ask your surgeon about medications.  

Find out if there are any medications that you should stop taking the day before surgery or if there are restrictions on your diet. Some surgeons will ask you not to eat or drink for a certain number of hours before the surgery; others will request that you arrive early in the morning but let you have breakfast beforehand. If your surgeon does not allow anything by mouth (NPO), this means that neither food nor fluids are allowed during this period. Your surgeon may also recommend that you do not take any medications three hours before surgery or that you take only a low-dose, short-acting (selective) beta-blocker for heart pain.

4. Ask about the procedure.  

An excellent way to communicate with your surgeon is to ask about the specifics of the procedure before you enter the operating room. For example, if a specific part of your surgery is harrowing, you might want to know beforehand how a different approach could alleviate the discomfort. You should also ask how long each piece will last and if there are other opportunities for recovery once it is over. If you have questions about the style of your surgery, ask your surgeon.  Your surgeon may be able to recommend a different type of surgery for you if the one being recommended does not meet your needs.

5. Talk to the anesthesiologist. 

“Beware”—a word that describes the anesthesiologist’s role in surgery. Physicians specializing in anesthesiology are highly trained experts responsible for providing safe, effective, and comfortable care to their patients during surgery. If you are getting a spinal operation, two people often do this: a licensed anesthesiologist or nurse practitioner and a registered nurse. An anesthesiologist will make initial decisions about your anesthesia and be involved in all aspects of the procedure; their role is to ensure that your safety, comfort, and quality of care are at the highest level.

6. The surgeon’s assistant.  

Your surgeon’s assistant (or PA) is an essential member of the surgical team. Their job is to increase your comfort during the surgery while ensuring that everything happens as efficiently as possible. The PA will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, and respirations one or two times every hour throughout the surgery.

7. Make sure you communicate with others in the operating room.  

It is essential to let the surgeon’s assistant know if you are having pain in a particular area so that they can take extra precautions. You should also verbally communicate with your surgeon and the anesthesiologist to understand what is happening. These conversations will help you focus on what will happen next and not how painful it is. When getting a spinal operation, most people feel little to no pain during surgery—but those who do remember it for the rest of their lives! If you need further anesthesia after surgery, communicate it immediately with your nurse or physician.  Sometimes, people need another anesthetic after surgery because either the surgery itself or the patient’s condition at the time of surgery makes it difficult for them to feel no pain. If you are experiencing a great deal of pain and discomfort, notify your anesthesia providers immediately so that they can adjust your pain medication.

8. Read everything regarding your pre-surgery preparation provided by your surgeon.

Preoperative instructions are usually in the form of a packet given to you just before surgery. They will let you know what is expected of you before, during, and after surgery. It is essential that you follow these instructions—not doing so can lead to problems during or after the operation. Therefore, you will want to read them carefully and ensure that your surgeon did not want you to do something before surgery that you failed to do. With spinal surgery implants, you will want to make sure that you remove any metal jewelry and watch before surgery. With any other surgical procedure, be sure to remove all of your hair from the area of your surgery so that no hair gets tangled in the retractors. Your surgeon may also ask that you do not have anything on for ten minutes after surgery and may even ask you not to use your computer for ten hours.

If you have allergies, address them with your doctor. Some surgeons will ask if you have organic compound allergies (latex dermatitis ). These are chemicals made from living organisms; they are also called biological compounds.


Although getting into a surgical procedure is stressful, once you have your cast or brace, you should be able to enjoy the process. Patience, communication, and preparation will help make your surgery a pleasant experience. 

The tips mentioned above will help you prepare for your surgery and take away the fear of unexpected pain. Leave your comments and questions below. We will be happy to help you out.