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What are the possible side effects of spinal stenosis treatments?

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The most common treatment for spinal stenosis is a lumbar laminectomy procedure, which carries the unlikely risks of nerve root damage, cerebrospinal fluid leak, infection and post-operative instability, according to Spine-health. The procedure alleviates pressure pain in the nerve root or disk space.

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Full Answer

Lumber laminectomy surgery is not foolproof, and patients do run the risk of rare complications, explains Spine-health. The first potential complication is nerve root damage, which occurs in about 1 in 1,000 cases. However, paralysis is not a concern, as the spinal cord ends above the location where this surgery takes place.

The second risk, cerebrospinal fluid leak, occurs in about 1 to 3 percent of all cases, according to Spine-health. If the dural sac is breached during the procedure, some fluid may escape, but laying down for about 24 hours after surgery allows the leak to seal, solving the problem. Post-operative instability of the operated level occurs in about 5 to 10 percent of the cases, resulting in complications that can be treated in the future with a spinal fusion surgery.

The final potential risk of a lumbar laminectomy procedure to treat spinal stenosis is infection, states Spine-health. Infection occurs in about 1 percent of all elective medical procedures and may require a second surgery, along with antibiotic treatment. Bleeding is a possible side effect after any surgery, but as there are no nearby major blood vessels, the chance of it occurring is low.

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