All spinal surgery has been suspended at an NHS trust after four serious “incidents” in which two people died.
Warrington and Halton NHS Trust said it had taken the precautionary measure after the operations at Warrington Hospital between March and August.
An investigation is due to take place, but the deaths were caused by “medical complications” rather than as a direct result of surgery, the trust said.
The trust apologised and promised to contact affected patients.
It is understood many of the patients on the waiting list for a procedure will be offered an appointment elsewhere while the temporary suspension is in place.
Patient Susan Rowland was told the day before her surgery that it would no longer be going ahead due to “unforeseen circumstances” and that all surgeries were cancelled for the “foreseeable future”.
Ms Rowland, who has suffered from lower back pain for a year due to a slipped disc, said she “really struggles” with daily life. She also has epilepsy and anxiety.
She said: “I had been mentally preparing for surgery and my anxiety had really been kicking in but I was still over the moon and excited.
“I was in shock when they cancelled with less than 24 hours notice. It was a massive blow.”
In November, the Royal College of Surgeons will undertake an independent review of the trust’s spinal surgery services.
Professor Simon Constable, medical director and deputy chief executive at the trust, said “four serious incidents” had been identified.
“Although these incidents appear very different from each other, as a precautionary measure, the trust… has temporarily stopped doing spinal procedures, until a full external review has been undertaken,” he added in a statement.
“We understand that this may cause concern for patients on our waiting list or being referred in to our services.”
Current patients are being reviewed on a case by case basis. The trust carries out 1,600 spinal procedures each year.