Objective Life expectancy for humans has increased dramatically and with this there has been a considerable increase in the number of patients suffering from lumbar spine disease. Symptomatic lumbar spinal disease should be treated, even in the elderly, and surgical procedures such as fusion surgery are needed for moderate to severe lumbar spinal disease. However, various perioperative complications are associated with fusion surgery. The aim of this study was to examine perioperative complications and assess risk factors associated with lumbar spinal fusion, focusing on geriatric patients at least 70 years of age in the Republic of Korea. Methods We retrospectively investigated 489 patients with various lumbar spinal diseases who underwent lumbar spinal fusion surgery between 2003 and 2007 at our institution. Three fusion procedures and the number of fused segments were analyzed in this study. Chronic diseases were also evaluated. Risk factors for complications and their association with age were analyzed. Results In this study, 74 patients experienced complications (15%). The rate of perioperative complications was significantly higher in patients 70 years of age or older than in other age groups (univariate analysis, p=0.001; multivariate analysis, p=0.004). However, perioperative complications were not significantly associated with the other factors tested (sex, comorbidities, operation procedures, fusion segments involved). Conclusion Increasing age was an important risk factor for perioperative complications in patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion surgery whereas other factors were not significant. We recommend good clinical judgment and careful selection of geriatric patients undergoing lumbar spinal fusion surgery.