Back surgery and blindness

I had a L3 thru S1 fusion almost four years ago.  I went into day one of a two day surgery that was done through my abdomen.  I came through that first phase and was fine.  I headed into day two which was to be done through the back.  I awoke in the recovery room at a local 
Wisconsin hospital blind.  My Doctor initially had left after my surgery to go to a family obligation and was not to be found.  His PA explained it as edema and it should be better the next day.  It ws not.  During my surgery I suffered loss of blood flow to my optic nerve and they died leaving me blind.  The condition is called Posterior ischemic optic neuropathy.  Also know plainly as PION.  The doctors took no blame nor did the aenesthesiologist.  I have a family with three kids.  Please let this note be a public service announcement to ask the question of potential blindness from back surgery.  Although it is rare, it's not that comforting when you are the one it happens to.  I had to learn my life all over again including typing.  I also lost my job and am now on disability.



  • memerainboltmemerainbolt IndianaPosts: 4,476

    Welcome dee5ward to the Veritas Health Forum.

    I am so sorry this happened to you. Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention. I bookmarked this post for future discussions from other members on what to ask their surgeons. 

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  • dee5ward, I'm stunned and so sorry to hear this! My heart goes out to you! It sounds like you are a very strong person and have adapted to this extremely difficult situation. Please know we care and are here for you. 


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  • So sorry to hear about your misfortune.  I have glaucoma and am scheduled to have spinal fusion on 2/27/20 and will certainly bring this to my doctor's attention.  Thank you for writing so  that others may benefit from your misfortune.  Best Wishes.

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