Potential post-operative complications
Operation from the back (PLIF/TLIF)
To a large extent, the risks associated with PLIF procedures are identical to those associated with any spinal surgery. However, in addition to these risks, there are risks associated with inserting the materials and with the materials themselves. The procedure requires a significant amount of nerve manipulation, which may cause nerves to stop functioning properly or stop functioning altogether. The inserted materials may come loose, break or shift. Even very experienced surgeons who use the right techniques cannot entirely prevent such complications from occurring. Fortunately, such complications are quite rare.
Operation from the front (ALIF)
In addition to the aforementioned risks, there is a very slim chance of gastrointestinal perforation, since the incision is made close to the intestines.
Careful selection of patients
Since various types of materials are now available for implantation, spondylodesis has become very popular recently. Unfortunately, not all doctors seem to understand when there is an indication for this type of surgery. The more carefully the patients are selected, the better the results. For some patients, spondylodesis is a ‘last resort’. Such patients will have tried everything else, are desperate to be healed and therefore may have overly high expectations of the procedure. It is vital that patients make a well-informed and well-considered decision.