A list of potential complications are listed below. Please check each box to acknowledge associated risks.
These include, but are not limited to:
There is a small risk of complication, including death, associated with any anaesthetic procedure. Your regular veterinarian is responsible for this component of your pet’s treatment and will discuss any risks with you.
Haemorrhage can be a complication of any surgical procedure. In most instances it can be controlled and the potential shock treated with intravenous fluid therapy. In severe cases, although rare, haemorrhage can be fatal.
Certain procedures require operating close to major nerves, often requiring retraction of nerves. In some cases, a temporary condition called neurapraxia occurs where a stretched or bruised nerve stops functioning for a period – commonly weeks. Often the nerve will recover function however occasionally it may not. There is also potential for iatrogenic (accidental) nerve injury during certain surgeries.
Wound infections are a common complication of surgery despite every attempt to provide a sterile surgical environment and the judicious use of perioperative antibiotics. Most infections can be controlled with antibiotics. Occasionally infections may result in severe complications including poor surgical outcome, long-term morbidity and rarely death. Some infections may necessitate further surgery. If an infection occurs in a surgical would in which an implant has been used (e.g. bone plate), then often this implant may require removal at a later time.
Occasionally a drainage tract may open up after surgery as a result of a reaction to retain body tissue, surgical material (e.g. suture) or a surgical implant. This tract may not resolve without further surgery to remove the offending cause.
Any surgical wound has the potential to have complications associated with healing. Major skin reconstructions involving skin flaps and grafts have an increase risk of related complications that may necessitate further surgery.
Bone healing is dictated by the nature of the fracturing (traumatic vs controlled), the bones mechanics, hormonal responses and blood supply. Older dogs, open wounds surrounding fractures, high energy traumatic fractures are more likely to heal slowly and possibly not heal. In the case of non-union (failure to heal) further surgery may be required.
Any implant placed in the body may undergo mechanical fatigue and fail. In most instances of fracture repair there is a race between implant failure and bone healing. Should the implants fail prematurely then the fracture may remain unstable and the bone may fail to heal. In some instances, the bone may still heal but not in the desired position. Implant failure may require further surgical intervention including replacement of implants and rarely, amputation. The percentage will be much higher if postoperative recommendations are not followed.
Any surgical procedure may result in post-operative swelling. Although expected and usually self-resolving, severe swelling in certain areas of the body can cause devastating complications. Swelling around the airways can lead to obstruction, preventing adequate oxygenation – this may require emergency procedures such as tracheostomy and in rare circumstances may be fatal. Swelling within the urinary tract may prevent urination. Swelling surrounding the spinal cord may lead to sever spinal cord dysfunction.
Despite performing surgery to improve quality of life, not every surgery can be guaranteed to successfully ameliorate clinical signs. Presenting clinical signs such as lameness, incontinence, exercise intolerance, neurological deficits may persist post surgery.
Some conditions may lead to recurrence of preoperative clinical signs despite successful surgery. Many orthopaedic procedures involving joints will slow, but not prevent future osteoarthritis within these joints. Meniscal (cartilage) tears may occur post cranial cruciate ligament surgery. Some cancers will recur despite initials successful removal. Functional obstructive disease may also recur following surgical correction through contraction of scar tissue (stricture), excessive scar tissue production or stretching of surrounding tissues.