Is spine surgery safe?
Modern imaging guidance system for spine surgery
Spine surgery has evolved over the past two decades with better implants, technology and refined keyhole techniques (video 1). Next generation spine surgeon also need to undergo a recognized fellowship training programme before they are qualified as spine specialist. The emergence of Robotic and O-arm computer (Figure 1) technology has enabled the implant to be inserted with pinpoint accuracy. The supplementary use of real time nerve and spinal cord monitoring (Figure 2) has significantly minimized the risk of nerve injury. I also use ultrasonic bone scalpel (weblink: http://www.misonix.com/bonescalpel/) routinely for removal of bone spurs instead of traditional bone cutters/kerrison to avoid nerve root injury.
An experienced spine surgeon will carefully consult you the indication of surgery with the associated pros and cons of each technique. The risk of paralysis is very rare and the surgeon can generally recognize high-risk cases and consult the patient accordingly. We encourage the patient to ask questions and enough time should be given to consider the options and seek second opinion if needed.