Most of the spinal decompression or stabilization procedures performed today have high success rates, partly because of the increased use of minimally invasive techniques. This includes fusion surgery, partial or full discectomies, and spinal disc replacement. However, there may be times when a second surgery, referred to as revision spine surgery, is needed, or at least recommended. There are many reasons it may be necessary to have revision spine surgery. Los Angeles surgeons from The Spine Institute discuss a few of the most common reasons.
If your original surgery was to remove part or all of a herniated disc, there’s no guarantee you won’t have a future issue with a damaged disc. Sometimes, a disc that was only partially removed with a discectomy may become damaged enough to require another procedure to remove it entirely and either insert an artificial disc or perform a fusion. Other times, a completely different disc may become herniated and require attention.
Adjacent Segment Disease
With spinal fusion surgery, the area affected is immobilized when adjacent vertebrae are fused together, which sometimes places added stress on nearby discs, spinal bones, and joints. This is a condition referred to as adjacent segment disease. Over time, these nearby areas may become unstable or damaged enough to require surgery.
Hardware and/or Graft Issues
The hardware inserted with spine stabilization procedures is carefully placed. Even so, the implanted devices may shift out of place when a patient becomes too active too soon. Sometimes, hardware issues develop for unknown reasons. With fusion surgery, the graft material may not result in a fusion of vertebrae, or the fusion may take longer to form than expected, which could result in added stress on the hardware. In rare instances, a patient may have an unexpected reaction to the hardware’s materials and require revision surgery to insert different devices.
A Tumor Comes Back
When spine surgery is performed to remove a tumor, there’s always a chance it may come back. In some situations, it may not have been possible to safely remove the entire tumor. Even when follow-up chemotherapy and radiation therapy are done to minimize the risk of regrowth, a tumor may return. It’s also possible a new tumor may develop in another part of the spine.
The Problem Wasn’t Solved
To be beneficial to the patient, spine surgery needs to treat the actual source of the pain, not just the symptoms. Doctors are usually very careful about making sure they’re addressing the source of a patient’s discomfort. However, there are times when the actual cause of the symptoms is overlooked. In some instances, there may be a secondary pain source that wasn’t detected. If this is the suspected reason a patient isn’t recovering as expected from spine surgery, reevaluation may include:
- More advanced diagnostic testing
- Injections to clearly identify affected nerves so a source of symptoms can be more accurately identified
- Referral to another specialist to get a fresh opinion
The possibility of revision spine surgery can’t always be avoided. Even so, the risk of having to consider another procedure can sometimes be reduced when patients carefully follow post-operation instructions. Making an effort to choose nutrient-rich foods, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, getting regular sleep, and exercising for at least half an hour a day can also keep your spine healthy after surgery.
At The Spine Institute, we specialize in a wide array of fusion and non-fusion procedures, from XLIF surgery to spinal decompression. Los Angeles patients can place their trust in Dr. Hyun Bae to diagnose the source of their pain and help them find effective relief. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.