Complications from Surgery

It is important when you are thinking about surgery that you carefully consider all of the risks and benefits of that treatment. You need to understand that while the surgery is being suggested to correct a problem, it is possible to have complications. Complications from surgery can be significant. It is possible that you could be worse following a surgical procedure that has complications than you were before the surgery.

Any doctor who performs surgery will have some complications. Through training and experience I have learned to minimize the risk of complications, and to recognize them when they develop so that they can be promptly and appropriately treated.

General problems that can occur with any surgery are listed below.


Pain is normal after surgery, but it usually goes down after a few days. If there seems to be increasing pain after 3 - 4 days, it may indicate that there is a problems with implants, or there may be an infection developing.


Bacterial infections can occur after any surgical procedure. You will be given antibiotics through your intravenous line (IV) at the time of surgery to help prevent an infection. However, there is still a possibility that you could get an infection. Treatment may include further antibiotic therapy, or even further surgery. Please go here for a Discussion of Infections.

Implant Problems

Wires, screws and metal plates are often used during orthopaedic surgery procedures. Wires that protrude through the skin my become infected, or begin to back out. Screws and plates likewise can become infected, or may cause pain or irritation under the skin. Please go here for a further discussion of Orthopaedic Implants.

Nonunion of Bone

In the treatment of fractures, or when bone fusion surgery is performed, the goal is to obtain solid healing of the bone with a proper alignment. In some instances the bone will not grow together properly, and we call that a Nonunion. Usually a non-union will be painful and will require further treatment. That may include use of a Bone Gowth Stimulator, or even further surgery. Sometimes the further surgery may include the need to obtain bone graft.


After some fractures or bone surgery the bone will heal, but not in the proper alignment or position. That is called a Malunion. If the bone deformity is significant, further surgery may be necessary to correct it.


During most foot and ankle operations I will use a tourniquet that prevents bleeding. This ensures that I can see the area of the operation well. It would be rare for you to require a blood transfusion as a result of this type of surgery.

Nerve Injury

When the skin is cut the tiny nerves in the area may be divided. They usually heal, but sometimes there are small patches of numbness about scar that forms. The deeper nerves may be stretched, and can lead to areas that are numb for several months. It is possible that there can be permanent numbness distal to the site of surgery.

During some operations a nerve is purposely cut. It is possible to form a tender ball of nerve fibers at the end of the cut nerve that is chronically painful. That is called a stump neuroma. That may require further treatment, including surgery to cut it out.

George Lian, M.D.

2801 K Street, Suite #500
Sacramento, CA 95816

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