Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Upper Spine FAQ

Question:

My mother-in-law is having her second back operation in two months. The first took pressure off her lumbar spine. The second is to remove a tumor in her upper back, which was really causing the problems. Right now she is paralyzed from the waist down. Will she recover from this?

Answer:

Paralysis can be temporary in cases like this, especially if she wasn't completely paralyzed before the second operation. Timing is important, too. The sooner the pressure is taken off the spinal cord, the better its chances of recovery. Irreparable damage can occur if months to years pass by before the problem is diagnosed.

She may get partial recovery with some losses in sensation, strength, or bowel and bladder control. No one will know the final outcome for many months to come. Encourage your mother-in-law to take a "wait and see" approach and not assume the results are final right after this operation.

Akhhko Takeuchi, MD, et al. Thoracic Paraplegia Due to Missed Thoracic Compressive Lesions after Lumbar Spinal Decompression Surgery. In Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine. January 2004. Vol. 100. No. 1. Pp. 71-74.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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