Revision Spinal Surgery

If you have had spinal surgery but your symptoms have not improved, or if they have returned, then you may have a condition that requires a second surgery. This is called revision spinal surgery.

Why do I need revision spinal surgery?

For the most part, the reason for revision spinal surgery is not due to an error from your previous operation. Spinal surgery is a complex procedure and your spine too is complex and ever-changing. Structures in the spine can continue to deteriorate with time despite previous surgery. The source of pain may sometimes also be from different structures than in your initial problem.

Conditions that may require revision spinal surgery

There are a number of conditions that may require revision spinal surgery – here are some of the most common:

  • Recurring disc herniation

A discectomy only removes the portions of the damaged disc (fragments) that have become partially or fully detached from the main section of the disc. The rest of the disc is left intact and it is still possible for it to herniate further.

  • Adjacent segment disease (ASD)

In this condition, problems occur in spinal segments above or below the area where the spinal surgery (often spinal fusion) has occurred. It is not known at his stage whether the surgery actually leads to the ASD or whether it would have occurred due to degenerative changes anyway. Research is continuing into this area.

  • Problems with hardware

In rare cases, the hardware that is inserted may cause problems. In this case surgery is usually performed relatively quickly to address the problem and replace the hardware as necessary.

  • Pseudoarthrosis

In this condition, the spine has not fused together properly one year after spinal fusion surgery. This is quite a common occurrence. Various factors can increase the risk of this occurring, including smoking, whether you take corticosteroids, the strength and health of your bones and the exact nature of your condition.

What does revision spinal surgery involve?

The type of revision spinal surgery that is recommended for you will depend on your condition, symptoms and the history of your condition. Your surgeon will discuss with you the exact nature of the procedure that is appropriate for you.

In many cases, revision spinal surgery can be performed by using Minimally Invasive Spinal Surgery Techniques. This means that you will have a smaller incision, less pain and quicker recovery than is possible with traditional surgical methods. Your doctor may also refer you for physical therapy to ensure your recovery is as quick and complete as possible.

Article Written by
Dr. Kaushik Das is a spinal surgeon in New York.