An older main experiencing debilitating back pain.
It takes bravery to try and change your life, especially when that bravery involves a major surgery such as a spinal fusion. 
 
Let us introduce you to Talia Goldenberg, a brave young woman who was looking for a better life. At only 23 years old, Talia had an extremely bright future ahead of her. She was smart, beautiful, and had a special artistic ability. But she was also in pain. To help reduce the symptoms of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, she sought the help of a surgeon.
 
But little did she know, that her surgeon was known for rushing from surgery to surgery. How could she have known? 

Talia’s doctor didn’t give her case the proper time and attention it needed. And he didn’t thoroughly consider her medical history. Unfortunately, Talia didn’t make it. A life taken away, and family and friends left to pick up the pieces. This is a tragedy that could have been prevented.
 
In case you’re unfamiliar, a spinal fusion is a surgical procedure that connects two or more vertebrae in the spine. The purpose is to straighten the spine or reduce pain. Keep reading to learn more!
Images of a woman's spine.

The Effects of Spinal Fusion Surgeries

Patricia was 56 when she had spinal fusion surgery. The surgery was supposed to relieve pain in her neck, arms, and hands. Unfortunately, she was injured during the surgery, and a piece of fractured bone embedded in the protective covering of her spinal cord.

The result? A spinal cord contusion. And to add insult to injury, the injury wasn’t properly diagnosed in time to correct what had happened. Sadly, Patricia became paralyzed. 

Doctors were criticized for not first trying physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, or acupuncture. Jumping right into a complicated surgery resulted in Patricia never being able to walk again. 

Like Patricia, you deserve to know all potential risks prior to surgery. And your doctors should communicate any alternative treatment options available. 

Why Spinal Fusions are Performed 

Though spinal fusions are complicated procedures, they can still be the most viable option for some patients. For many, this surgery can bring forth a greater quality of life. There are many reasons a doctor may suggest a possible spinal fusion surgery, but here are some of the more common:

  • You have a broken vertebra from a severe injury that needs repair. This could be from a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or a construction accident. 
  • There are deformities in your spine that are in need of repair.
  • Or you have a condition like Talia’s which needs stabilizing to help reduce pain and symptoms. 

No matter what injury or condition brings you to the doctor, you deserve quality care. If you didn’t receive proper care and attention, you may have grounds to pursue a failed spinal fusion lawsuit.

Common Risks of Spinal Fusions

Every surgical procedures carries some risk, and of course your doctor can’t predict everything. But if something about your care seems questionable, seek the help of an experienced legal professional. So often, patients blindly put their trust in medical professionals, but doctors make mistakes too.

Here are some of the complications patients may endure after a spinal fusion surgery:

  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Bowel and bladder problems 
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Decreased range of motion

Some of these symptoms may be considered normal, but if they’re severe or don’t go away, there may be a problem. Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? Did something seem “off” about your experience? If so, don’t hesitate to contact our office. We can help you get to the root of the issue and figure out if this is normal, or if someone’s at fault. 

3 Reasons To Pursue A Failed Spinal Fusion Lawsuit 

A spinal fusion can result in a lawsuit for a slew of reasons. But here are some of the most common:

  1. The doctor failed to recognize a complication during the procedure. 
  2. The doctor recommended the surgery when it wasn’t in the patient’s best interest.
  3. Alternative options were never given.

To decide if you have a possible spinal fusion lawsuit, one significant question must be answered: Would a reasonably skilled surgeon in the same position have made the same mistake? If the answer is no, then you may have a case. 

It’s important to note that spinal fusions are considered somewhat controversial within the medical world. There are a lot of different opinions among equally skilled professionals. This can make botched spinal fusion lawsuits harder to win, but there are so many variables that come into play so don’t discount your situation without talking to a professional.

In Patricia’s case, the surgery never should have happened. Her symptoms could have been treated with less complicated methods and it was her doctor’s responsibility to communicate this to her.

Doctor looks at an x-ray of the spine.

Lack of Informed Consent  

You may also have a case if the surgeon failed to inform you of potential risks of the procedure. Depending on the state you live in, you may need to prove that:

  1. A reasonable patient would have wanted the information.
  2. Or a reasonable doctor would have given the information. 

If you’re pursuing this avenue, a lawyer will want to prove that a reasonable patient would have said “no” to the procedure had they been given the information.

Doctors should clearly communicate the risks involved and tell you about spinal fusion complications. It’s likely your doctor had you sign a consent form explaining that you understood the risks. This doesn’t mean you’ll lose the case but it may mean you have a harder fight to battle. But every situation is different, and that’s why it’s important to speak with an attorney.

Pursuing A Failed Spinal Fusion Lawsuit

If you didn’t receive reasonable care, it’s more than acceptable to pursue a lawsuit. There are three things to consider if you think you’re a victim.

Factors influencing the average settlement for spinal fusion lawsuits include: 

If you think that you have a case based on the circumstances discussed in this article, contact our office by filling out a brief online form. You have a right to hold guilty people liable for your suffering. If you or a loved one are suffering from these devastating effects, we want to help. 

Failed Spinal Fusion FAQ’s

Can you damage a spinal fusion?

The possible complications are the same as with any type of surgery – anesthetic issues, bleeding and infections. After a spinal fusion surgery there might also be nerve damage in the lower back.

Can spinal fusion hardware break?

If the parts of the spine which have been operated on do not manage to fuse and heal properly, there might be pain which could progress over time. As the spine moves, the metal hardware that is inside might give in and break. If this happens, the patient will start to feel more pain.

What is a failed back surgery syndrome?

FBSS which stands for Failed Back Surgery Syndrome is connected to patients who feel pain after having spinal surgery that remains the same or is new and is located in their back or leg . This includes failed spinal fusions, which often lead to lawsuits.

How much pain is normal after spinal fusion surgery?

As time passes and the patient’s back begins to heal, he/she may start being more active. Around 4 weeks is needed after surgery for most of the pain to go away, but for some people it might take 3 to 6 months. 

Why do my hips hurt after spinal fusion?

SIJ pain might be caused by one of the following: 

  • After the fusion the mechanical work load might have increased.
  • There might be harvesting of bone graft, located close to the joint (in the iliac crest).
  • The SIJ syndrome might have been misdiagnosed before the fusion.

Why does my back still hurt after spinal fusion?

After such surgery certain parts of the spine become immobilized. This can cause stress and each movement over time might lead to ligamentous hypertrophy or bone spurs. The canals of the spine might start to narrow and the nerves right below and above the immobilized by the fusion sector might be affected. The name of this condition is adjacent segment disease.

Is it normal to have leg pain after spinal fusion?

Nowadays, surgery is tremendously better than what it used to be 20 years ago. Nevertheless, some people might feel pain in their leg after going through an operation for lumbar decompression if they are suffering from a herniated disk or spinal stenosis. The pain is usually caused by the nerve roots which need to heal and goes away after a few days or weeks.

How much pain is normal after spinal fusion surgery?

As time passes and the patient’s back begins to heal, he/she may start being more active. Around 4 weeks is needed after surgery for most of the pain to go away, but for some people it might take 3 to 6 months. 

What does a failed spinal fusion feel like?

If the spinal fusion is not successful the patient may feel back or leg pain, tingling sensation, weakness, numbness or ache which starts from a certain area and moves to another. You may find more information below.

How do I know if my spinal fusion failed?

If the surgery has not been successful you might experience: 

  • Constant pain which does not occur during the healing process.
  • Aching at a new location, different from the surgery site.
  • Restriction in mobility.
  • Pain or a feeling of numbness starting from the low back and spreading down the legs.
  • Spasms in the back.
  • If you’re experiencing any of the above, you may consider a failed spinal surgery lawsuit.

What happens if a spinal fusion fails?

After the surgery there are some people who still feel pain. This is known as “failed fusion” or “failed back syndrome.” Those patients might not be able to do their day-to-day tasks. Although surgery might not be able to remove the pain, it could be helpful for the condition. 

Can I file a lawsuit for a failed back surgery?

Even though you might have chosen the best surgeons, sometimes procedures fail. However, if the cause of the unsuccessful surgery is negligence you could take legal action and hold the hospital, doctor or surgeon accountable.

How do I know I can sue for failed spinal fusion?

There are many different reasons to take legal action after a failed spinal fusion. The most widespread are:

  • A manufacturer is aware of an implant that is ineffective or unsafe but markets it anyways. 
  • The surgical implant has defects thanks to a flaw in design or manufacturing
  • The manufacturer was or should have been aware of those defects
  • The manufacturer doesn’t warn about the possible harm or defects in the implant.
  • A doctor is negligent during the operation. 

How much money can you get from a spinal fusion surgery lawsuit settlement?

In most of the cases the settlement for suffering and pain from a two level neck or back fusion surgery is from $250,000 to $400,000.