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Blindness after Spinal Surgery

MMT800MMMT800 Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I am scheduled for 13 level fusion (actually revision) surgery on aug 17. Yes, i am scared and nervous as I remember my 1st fusion surgery in 2005 like it was yesterday. But the real scare came at a pre-op appt when the Anesthesiologist told me that permenant blindness was a real risk that I needed to consider. My surgery is anticipated to last 12+ hours and this duration is one of the concerns with blindness. Anyone have any input? Heard of this risk? I am on verge of cancelling my surgery this has me so scared. Sorry I haven't had the time to do my own research on this topic and looking for input from the forum. Thanks


  • I don't have much to help you here, only one small comfort...

    in the last 4-5 years that I have been looking at back surgery articles and then joining spinehealth and having had 3 back surgeries since'08, this is the first time ever that I have heard about blindness.

    Do talk to your dr. get the real scoop.
  • Like Saltzworks, this is the first 'risk' I have heard of concerning anesthesia. Maybe the length of time under is the difference? I would think blindness could occur with any surgery?? All the surgeries I've had over my life have lasted less than 3 hours, and never was blindness a risk told to me.

    I agree, get a full brief from your doctor as to why this is a risk, and too what are the statistics of this happening. Wow...

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • the nerves around the eyes. When you are placed in prone position, great care is taken to protect the eyes, nose, ears, chin, etc. If there is too much pressure on any of these areas, necrosis can occur or nerve damage. Your anesthesia providers are responsible for proper positioning during the case.

    The anesthesia team needs to tell you ALL potential risks of general anesthesia, even death. That is called informed consent.

    Speak with your surgeon about this if still concerned, but you can also call the anesthesia dept if you still have questions.


  • Wow, you taught me something today!! Thanks! Very, very interesting...

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Had 10 hour fusion surgery July 2010. That also caused me concern. Did some research. Some say it's the pressure around the eyes when your face is in the foam holder. Others (more doctors believe this now) have said it is actually the blood loss. In the face down position your optic nerve is suseptible (?) to low blood pressure when there is major blood loss.

    You need to discuss this with your doctor. My info is from the internet and I'm not a doctor. I know that when I came out of surgery and woke up I was well aware that I could see!

    Good luck.

  • It has to be a posterior surgery risk! I say that because yesterday I got a "written" list of risks for my upcoming posterior surgery, and blindness (first for me) was on the list. My surgeon mentioned it (blindness) was due to possible issues of positioning during surgery... Interesting for sure!!!

    I was NOT given that as one of my risks for anterior surgeries, arm/wrist/hand surgery, abdominal... so it has to be positional? Like Matt and SG...the foamy donut our face is in...makes sense.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Just a heads up. I hope that your surgeons make sure to place you right after your put in the halo. I had a c3 to t3 posterior fusion on 2/4/11. Woke up and my right eye was swollen shut, looks like I was boxing 15 rounds. If I can find the picture...anyway it took about 4 days for the swelling to go down. My OS didn't really say what happened, but he was not pleased by any means. So after 12 hours of face down and your sort of body higher than your head for the surgery. Glad I was out when they placed me in that contraption :-).. Good luck an may it all turn out well !!
  • 13 levels, OMG! do you have scoliosis by chance? that's like C3-4 to T8-9. the first thing that i thought of is what aviatrix suggested, the positioning of your head, neck and chest during your surgery. what is the percentage of people who normally have this surgery who have had vision problems resultant of this surgery? that might be worth finding out
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