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When obtaining consent for spinal surgery, the possibilities of complications must be discussed with the athlete. Again, the details of the complications of spinal surgery could fill a book, and they are beyond the scope of this chapter.

In general, however, the possible complications include wound infections, postoperative bleeding that requires transfusion, nonunion of the fusion site, loosening or breaking of the spinal instrumentation (if used), chronic pain despite adequate decompression or solid fusion, nerve root or spinal cord injury intraoperatively, excessive epidural scar tissue formation, arachnoiditis, and perianesthetic risks.

If a discotomy is carried out, the patient has a risk of disc reherniation (because not all of the disc nucleus is removed), recurrent spinal stenosis above or below the level of decompression, or accelerated mobile segment degeneration above and below a fusion segment, leading to recurrent mechanical pain or other recurrent leg-dominant pain.

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