Spinal Fusion Surgery Causes Severe Complications

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on May 11, 2016

Orthopedic Expert WitnessThis case takes place in New York and involves a male patient who underwent a spinal fusion procedure which resulted in severe complications. During the procedure, the physician did not use fluoroscopic guidance, and despite obtaining a flash of blood, continued with the procedure. The physician lost sight of important tissues surrounding the patient’s spine at some point during the procedure, which caused him to cut a major blood vessel in the patient’s lower back. The physician continued the procedure until the patient flat-lined, and an emergency procedure was undertaken in an attempt to save the patient’s life. The patient survived, however he suffered multiple permanent injuries which will require ongoing care.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you regularly perform posterior lumbar fusions?
  • 2. Have you ever seen this outcome from this procedure?
  • 3. Do you believe fluoroscopic guidance should be used during this procedure to maintain visibility on the placement of the pituitary rongeur?
  • 4. Have you ever been the target of a malpractice claim? If so, please explain.
  • 5. Have you ever served as an expert witness on a similar matter?

Expert Witness Response E-000855

I regularly perform posterior lumbar fusions. I have never had a patient develop this outcome from this procedure but there have been case reports of similar complications in the literature. Fluoroscopic guidance is one way to assure proper orientation. I have never been the target of a malpractice claim. I have not reviewed a similar case in the past but familiar with procedure and complication and would be happy review on behalf of the plaintiff.

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