Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 6, 2018
Everyone hopes that spine surgery is the end of the line when it comes to treating their back pain, and while it works for the vast majority of individuals, some patients need a second surgery. But why do some people need to go under the knife a second time? Today, we take a look at a couple common reasons why a person would need revisional spine surgery.
Future Disc Herniation
If you underwent a discectomy to treat a herniated disc, the surgeon went in and removed damaged bits of the disc. This will help alleviate compression and pain, but it won’t necessarily prevent you from re-herniating the same disc in the future. Your doctor will walk you through physical therapy exercises and a treatment plan to reduce the risk of reherniation, but that doesn’t mean you’re fully safe from another herniation.
Adjacent Segment Disease
Adjacent Segment Disease (ASD) is a problem that sometimes develops after a spinal fusion operation. When your discs are fused together, you lose mobility in that area, but if you’re still actively moving your spine, that stress is going to be dispersed somewhere else on your vertebral column. Oftentimes the spinal joints above and below the fusion site see an increase in the amount of stress they bear. In patients affected by ASD, the condition doesn’t usually set in for a couple of years after the first surgery. It can lead to pain and joint degeneration, and a secondary corrective procedure may be necessary down the road.
Another common reason why someone may need to undergo a secondary operation is because there is an issue with the implanted hardware. Surgeons do everything in their power to confirm that implanted hardware or bone grafts are in the precise location prior to closing the incision site and ending the surgery, but sometimes the hardware can shift because the patient becomes too active too quickly, or simply for unknown reasons. Patients may also have an abnormal reaction to the implanted device, and a different device needs to be inserted.
Not The Root Cause
In order to treat the spinal issue, surgeons need to ensure that they are operating on the source of the problem, not a symptom of an underlying issue. There are times when all signs point to one medical condition being the problem, and after the operation, it turns out there was another issue at play. Surgeons are meticulous to make sure they are always treating the underlying problem, but unfortunately there are cases where the true cause goes untreated.
One final reason why you may need to return for a second surgery is because a spinal tumor returned after it was surgically removed. Other times, a doctor may only be able to safely remove part of a tumor, and although they will try to stop the growth of the remaining section using methods like radiation or chemotherapy, there’s a chance the tumor will continue to grow and need to be surgically addressed once more.