There are countless conditions and injuries that may affect the back and necessitate spinal surgery. Statistics show that the mortality rates for spinal surgery were highest for those who had a primary diagnosis of fracture and kyphosis. Kyphosis happens when the curves of the spine are either slow to develop or have structural deformity, often giving the appearance of a "hunchback". This condition can worsen over time and cause back pain, muscle fatigue and stiffness in the back, thus creating a need for spinal surgery.
The mortality rates for spinal surgery were the lowest for patients who had scoliosis and degenerative conditions and spondylolisthesis. The most common causes of death during spinal surgery include respiratory/pulmonary cardiac, sepsis, and stroke. Inoperative blood loss is also a main cause of spinal surgery mortality, and approximately 79% of these deaths occur before the patient is discharged from the hospital. The chance of death increases with age, and elderly people are more prone to spinal injuries.
In fact, research shows that the number of spinal cord injuries is on the rise among senior citizens. This is partly because of the changes in bone quality that occur with aging and the increasing prevalence of cervical spinal stenosis that comes with older age. Elderly people are also at greater risk for motor vehicle accidents per miles driven, and these accidents often cause damage to the spine, neck and brain. These factors all contribute to the large number of spine surgeries that are done on a yearly basis throughout the United States.
In addition to taking these factors into consideration, spine surgeons must also deal with external influences and pressures. In recent years, insurance companies throughout the country have tightened their guidelines on spine coverage. This has resulted in more denied claims and makes it difficult for spine surgeons to help patients without first doing extensive peer reviews and speaking with other medical representatives and arbitrators.
Depending on the geographic location, spine surgeons must also deal with differences in spine care and surgery procedures. While some surgeons are quick to adopt new procedures, there are others who prefer their tried-and-true methods. Regardless, there will always be conditions and injuries that require the immediate diagnosis and treatment of a skilled spine doctor in order for the patient to have a chance at a full recovery. To learn more about spine conditions and how you can choose the best surgeon for your surgery, talk to a Southern California spine surgeon at Chapman Neurosurgical Spine Institute (CNIS).