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Why Would I Need Revision Lumbar Surgery?

A neurosurgeon using pencil pointing at lumbar vertebra model in medical office

After years of living with chronic back pain, you were hopeful that surgery would eliminate the discomfort and help you regain full function. However, when your symptoms are still present or develop complications, your doctor recommends revision lumbar surgery in West Islip. It is typical to be skeptical about the second surgery, mainly if it results in further internal complications. Before surgery, your specialist determines the best course of diagnostic imaging and tests to establish the cause of your pain. Here are reasons why your doctor may recommend second back surgery.

Hardware problems

Hardware such as plates, rods, and screws that surgeons use during spinal fusion and other types of back surgery may result in pain. The prosthetics may break, or the surgeon might have placed them wrongly. Hardly does the instrumentation itself cause pain. Most of the hardware problems occur due to the placement of the device. Pain is a common type of hardware problem that may necessitate revision surgery. Screws may sometimes loosen, and this may require immediate intervention.

The implanted devices can become uncomfortable, especially when you move in a particular way. They may cause inflammation of soft tissues, including ligaments, muscles, tendons, and fascia. Sometimes patients can feel the instrumentation through the skin. Your body may also reject the metal implant, and you may develop an infection. In such cases, surgery involves removing the device and treating the infection with antibiotics afterward.

Recurrent disc herniation

A herniated disc is one of the reasons why your doctor may have recommended the initial surgery. However, sometimes the disc materials may herniate in the same place that previously led to surgery. Herniated disc symptoms such as sciatica and pain down your arms may follow when this happens. The original surgical procedure for a herniated disc (discectomy) usually involves removing parts of the vertebrae that may be pressing on nerves. However, this means the disc is still present, and fragments of it can herniate.

For second back surgery, your doctor may shave parts of the bone to relieve pain and other symptoms. If there is a need for revision surgery, your specialist may recommend pain management and conservative treatment because patients may not get the desired results with a second surgery.

Adjacent segment degeneration

It is a condition whereby mechanical changes occur at spinal joints above or below the initial surgery area. Adjacent segment degeneration mainly occurs approximately two or more years after experiencing no pain. While previous surgery may contribute to the deterioration, patients who have never undergone spinal fusion may also have degeneration. Experts are yet to establish if the condition results from back surgery or natural degenerative spine changes.

How safe is revision lumbar surgery?

Surgery is a risky procedure with possible complications such as bleeding and developing an infection. Revisiting a surgical site with difficulties is even more dangerous, which is why revision surgery should be done with a skilled and specialized surgeon. Some procedures have better outcomes than others, making it difficult to access possible results. An accurate diagnosis of the cause of your pain is crucial for revision surgery success.

If you have further questions about revision lumbar surgery, consult with your doctor today at George Kakoulides, MD.