Are There Risks to Having Lumbar Decompression Surgery?

Lumbar decompression surgery has risks such as infection, leakage of cerebrospinal fluid, formation of blood clots, recurrent symptoms, nerve injury and paralysis, and facial sores, states NHS Choices. Infection is the most common complication, and it occurs in 1 in every 25 people who have this surgery.

Blood clots that occur after lumbar decompression surgery may cause swelling and pain in the leg and, in rare cases, blockage of blood vessels in the lungs. Wearing compression stockings or staying active during recovery reduces the risk of blood clot formation, according to NHS Choices.

Lumbar decompression surgery is effective, but symptoms recur in 1 in every 3 people due to another slipped disk or a weakened spine. If leakage of cerebrospinal fluid occurs after the operation, another surgery may be required to repair the wound, states NHS Choices. Facial sores develop in some people due to the face-down position of the long lumbar decompression surgery, and they may last for several days. However, anesthetists check patients during the surgery to prevent facial sores.

Problems that may cause nerve injury and paralysis include accidental damage of nerves and blood vessels, leakage of spinal fluid, and bleeding in the spinal column, notes NHS Choices. If paralysis occurs due to lumbar decompression surgery, it usually affects the lower half of the body. Dying during or after lumbar decompression surgery is rare, but the risk of death increases in people with poor health and the aged, according to NHS Choices