Spine Surgeries in Elderly People

March 14, 2023

Spine surgeries in the elderly are becoming increasingly common as the population ages. But there is a lot of difference between a regular patient and a geriatric patient when it comes to undergoing spine surgery. People have common misconceptions that undergoing spine surgery means a wheelchair-bound life. Even though spine surgery is major surgery and the spine is central to the whole load of the body, the success rate of spinal surgeries is over 95%.

Elderly patients who undergo spine surgery often experience pain relief and improved mobility. Mostly, when a person brings an elderly patient to the hospital with spinal problems, they would have tried all kinds of treatment but have seen no success. In severe cases, he or she would be bedridden by the time they seek consultation. Thus, there should be an openness towards spinal surgery as it is a necessity irrespective of age and helps live a better quality of life.

However, there is a risk of complications from any surgery, so it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with your doctor before making a decision.

Approach to Spinal Surgeries in the Elderly

In spine surgery, the type of surgery depends on the kind of issue one has. The approach depends on pre-procedure discussion and planning of the surgery and deciding on what the proper principles and/or techniques can be used during the surgery. It also depends on the mental frame of the patient.

Since the spine is weak among older people, the focus is more on stabilizing the spine. The surgery may require putting up screws and rods in the spine to make it stronger and fix the problem. The most common type of surgery is laminectomy, which involves removing a portion of the vertebral bone to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Other types of surgeries include spinal fusion, vertebroplasty, and discectomy.

The crux of successful spine surgery is always the support of the multi-disciplinary team in the ICU and the technology of management. With technological development in healthcare, minimally invasive procedures such as endoscopic spine surgery are being practiced widely by surgeons. The type of surgery performed will depend on the specific condition being treated, the location of the problem, and the patient’s overall health. People with other comorbidity issues can get treated with fast techniques and better monitoring systems. Spinal cord monitoring can monitor the spinal cord in real-time and help reverse and rectify any problem during surgery.

Challenges in Spine Surgeries in the Elderly

While these procedures can be successful in relieving pain and improving function, there are a number of challenges that come with performing spine surgeries in the elderly. They are more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers, low immunity, weak bones (Osteoporosis), and risk of fractures, etc. Any of these conditions can complicate surgery and result in infections, bleeding, and blood clots which is why they and their relatives are hesitant to opt for surgery. Also, older people are more likely to have a longer recovery time and may need more rehabilitation after surgery.

Despite these challenges, spine surgery in the elderly can be successful. With proper planning and communication between the surgeon and the patient, elderly patients can experience significant improvements in their quality of life after surgery.

Preventing Spine Problems

In older people, falls are a leading cause of injury in the elderly, and they can often lead to serious injuries, such as hip fractures. To help prevent falls, the elderly should take steps to make their homes safe. This includes removing trip hazards, such as throw rugs and electrical cords, and installing grab bars in the bathroom. The elderly should also exercise regularly to improve their balance and strength.

Spinal problems have to be dealt with from early adulthood by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, older people can also adopt healthy habits like being active by walking as much as they can and eating a balanced diet.

Here are a few tips for adults to prevent any spinal conditions that may occur in the future:

• Exercise regularly. Take a walk for up to 4 km daily, cycle, or swim for half an hour. Consider weight training as well.
• Have a well-balanced diet and get proper exposure to sunlight.
• If you have a spine problem at a young age like a disc problem, ensure to deal with it appropriately.
• Women should have calcium and vitamins and address any menstrual dysfunction and hormonal issues.
• Don’t get into new exercises and do them rigorously because they may injure your health.

Doctor profile: Click here



By Dr Amrithlal A Mascarenhas
Dr Amrithlal A Mascarenhas is a consultant of spine surgery at Manipal Hospital Millers Road, Bengaluru.
To submit your article / poem / short story to Daijiworld, please email it to news@daijiworld.com mentioning 'Article/poem submission for daijiworld' in the subject line. Please note the following:

  • The article / poem / short story should be original and previously unpublished in other websites except in the personal blog of the author. We will cross-check the originality of the article, and if found to be copied from another source in whole or in parts without appropriate acknowledgment, the submission will be rejected.
  • The author of the poem / article / short story should include a brief self-introduction limited to 500 characters and his/her recent picture (optional). Pictures relevant to the article may also be sent (optional), provided they are not bound by copyright. Travelogues should be sent along with relevant pictures not sourced from the Internet. Travelogues without relevant pictures will be rejected.
  • In case of a short story / article, the write-up should be at least one-and-a-half pages in word document in Times New Roman font 12 (or, about 700-800 words). Contributors are requested to keep their write-ups limited to a maximum of four pages. Longer write-ups may be sent in parts to publish in installments. Each installment should be sent within a week of the previous installment. A single poem sent for publication should be at least 3/4th of a page in length. Multiple short poems may be submitted for single publication.
  • All submissions should be in Microsoft Word format or text file. Pictures should not be larger than 1000 pixels in width, and of good resolution. Pictures should be attached separately in the mail and may be numbered if the author wants them to be placed in order.
  • Submission of the article / poem / short story does not automatically entail that it would be published. Daijiworld editors will examine each submission and decide on its acceptance/rejection purely based on merit.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to edit the submission if necessary for grammar and spelling, without compromising on the author's tone and message.
  • Daijiworld reserves the right to reject submissions without prior notice. Mails/calls on the status of the submission will not be entertained. Contributors are requested to be patient.
  • The article / poem / short story should not be targeted directly or indirectly at any individual/group/community. Daijiworld will not assume responsibility for factual errors in the submission.
  • Once accepted, the article / poem / short story will be published as and when we have space. Publication may take up to four weeks from the date of submission of the write-up, depending on the number of submissions we receive. No author will be published twice in succession or twice within a fortnight.
  • Time-bound articles (example, on Mother's Day) should be sent at least a week in advance. Please specify the occasion as well as the date on which you would like it published while sending the write-up.

Comment on this article

  • Flavian, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Wed, Mar 15 2023

    I am the one who had spine surgery to fix my vertebra 4-5 in order to place my cen ral nerve back in original position which had protruded due to slip disk. That happened 12 yars back and I am perfectly in good health and confidence to live life without any killer pain which I went through for ages. I have have Platinum rod inserted and vertebras are supported with clamp an screws. I was discouraged by some private doctors not to go for surgery explaining me that success rate cannot be guaranteed and chances of on wheel chair may be inevitable. I had no second thought, I had trust in God and prayed that I will go ahead rather than suffering such killer and devastating pain. Thank God everything went precisely. Surgery lasted 12 hours and when I came out of operation theater there was a smile on my face and my fly was so happy. Prayers and doctors teamwork gave me second phase in life.

  • Rudolf Rodrigues, Mumbai

    Wed, Mar 15 2023

    Doc, nice, short, and lucid article. The term geriatric is a generic one and does not specify any age group; in that, how much minimal % of improvement attainable post procedure could be a prospective candidate for the procedure? Also for a person in his 80s would you still recommend a spinal procedure considering the risks involved? Also, would it be not prudent enough to take a second independent opinion before getting ready for the scalpel? I would be thankful if you could quench my curiosity. Thanks!

Leave a Comment

Title: Spine Surgeries in Elderly People

You have 2000 characters left.


Please write your correct name and email address. Kindly do not post any personal, abusive, defamatory, infringing, obscene, indecent, discriminatory or unlawful or similar comments. Daijiworld.com will not be responsible for any defamatory message posted under this article.

Please note that sending false messages to insult, defame, intimidate, mislead or deceive people or to intentionally cause public disorder is punishable under law. It is obligatory on Daijiworld to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments, to the authority concerned upon request.

Hence, sending offensive comments using daijiworld will be purely at your own risk, and in no way will Daijiworld.com be held responsible.