Spinal Cord Surgery Complications Can be Prevented by Monitoring

Spinal Cord Surgery Complications Can be Prevented by MonitoringThe American Academy of Neurology has issued an update to its guidelines for spinal surgery, stating that the spinal cord should be monitored during all spinal procedures and certain chest surgeries, such as the repair of narrowing aorta walls, to keep the risk of paralysis or loss of muscle function to a minimum, HealthDay reports.

Surgeons who continuously assess the spinal cord during surgery can be alerted quickly of any complications, and can correct problems before damage occurs. Throughout the surgery, intraoperative monitoring can detect small changes in nerve-signal transmission that surgeons have missed in the past.

"Paraparesis [partial paralysis of the legs], paraplegia and quadriplegia are potential serious complications of surgeries where the spinal cord is at risk," guideline lead author Dr. Marc Nuwer, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an academy news release. "Monitoring can help prevent damage by identifying problems early enough to allow for interventions. If intraoperative monitoring raises warnings, surgeons and anesthesiologists can modify the surgery to reduce the risk of these complications."

The guidelines were released in this week's issue of the Neurology medical journal, as well as in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology.

Nuwer added that the best way to treat paralysis is to take the necessary measures to prevent it from happening in the first place. If surgeons supplement their operations with spinal cord monitoring, the chances of complications can be lowered.

According to the North American Spine Society, there are several surgical options patients choose in an effort to allay chronic back pain or repair damage done in an accident. While spinal surgeries have advanced greatly, they still come with several risks, the same as any surgery.