Why Would Someone Need a Revision Spine Surgery?

Why Would Someone Need a Revision Spine Surgery?

Spine surgery plays an important role in treating back pain, especially chronic and recurrent pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatment options. 

As effective and successful as surgery can be, in some cases, the outcome is less than expected or the surgery may fail to meet your specific needs. That’s when revision spine surgery can help.

David Chang, MD-PhD, DABNS, is skilled in revision spine surgery using techniques tailored to each patient’s unique needs, helping relieve pain and other symptoms that persist despite an earlier surgery. 

Here’s why some spine surgeries don’t work the first time around and when we might recommend spine revision surgery.

Why spine surgery problems happen

When spine surgery doesn’t achieve its goals, it’s usually due to one or more of these three issues.

Patient issues

Smoking is one patient-related factor that increases the likelihood of a poor surgical outcome for all types of surgery. Smoking interferes with circulation, which in turn hampers healing and recovery. Obesity also increases the risk of a poor surgical outcome.

Research shows psychosocial well-being is another key factor in successful spine surgery. Patients who are depressed or chronically stressed may have poorer outcomes, since these emotional issues can take a major toll on healing.

Surgical issues

A skilled surgeon who’s experienced in multiple state-of-the-art surgical procedures is vital if you want the best outcome. Some patients may require revision surgery if the first surgery used a technique that wasn’t optimal for the patient’s current or past medical history.

Postoperative issues

Surgical complications can affect recovery and outcomes. Some patients have changes in biomechanical stresses that increase the risk of problems later on.

Reasons for having revision spine surgery

In general, revision spine surgery may make sense if you continue to experience pain or other symptoms for a long period of time after your surgery or when those symptoms recur later on.

Among the issues that can cause or contribute to failed back surgery are:

Hardware failure

Spinal surgery often uses state-of-the-art hardware like pins, plates, or artificial components to restore spine function and relieve pain. Although rare, hardware can fail, malfunction, or shift position, resulting in ongoing symptoms. 

Bone fusion failure

Spinal fusion surgery helps stabilize areas of the spine to relieve nerve compression and other back or neck problems. Fusion failure happens when the bones fail to fuse or knit together. 

Also called pseudoarthrosis, spinal fusion failure is more common among people who take corticosteroids and in surgeries where hardware isn’t used.

Scar tissue formation

Tough, fibrous scar tissue forms as part of the natural healing process. In most cases, it causes no problems. But if too much scar tissue forms or if it grows into areas where it doesn’t belong, it can irritate or compress nerves and cause other problems with healing.

Underlying medical problems

Some medical problems, like diabetes, can interfere with the normal healing process, increasing the likelihood of developing a problem after your surgery. Spine-related problems like arthritis can also cause problems with surgical outcomes.

Recurrent disc herniation

Many spine surgeries are performed to treat herniated discs that can’t be treated with nonsurgical options. If the initial surgery leaves part of the disc in place, it may slip again, causing ongoing pain. 

In these instances, Dr. Chang may recommend surgery to replace the remaining disc with an artificial disc or fuse the vertebrae together.

Find relief for your back or neck pain

Chronic spine pain can be debilitating, taking a toll on you both physically and emotionally. If you continue to have pain or other symptoms after spine surgery, Dr. Chang can help. 

To learn more about revision spine surgery at our practice in Roseville, Minnesota, book an appointment online or over the phone today.

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