How to Know If You’re a Candidate for Revision Spine Surgery

It’s not always easy to know if revision surgery is the right option for you. If you’ve had spine surgery and there were surgical complications, or if you have worsening symptoms or new back problems, revision spine surgery could provide relief. But before you make your decision, it’s important to understand what revision spine surgery entails and whether revision spine surgery might help you.

What is Revision Spine Surgery?

Revision spine surgery is a secondary surgery that may be performed after a previous spine surgery. One of the unfortunate realities of the nature of spinal problems is that surgical complications can occur, symptoms can persist, or new issues can develop, and any of these may warrant a second surgery. Revision spine surgery can help alleviate problems related to a previous spine surgery or relieve worsening or developing symptoms of spinal problems.

Because the spine is such an important part of the body, and spine surgery is very complicated and intricate, revision spine surgery is not something to jump into. In most cases, it is best to try conservative treatments first for a while before determining that surgery may indeed be necessary. It is also important to seek out an experienced orthopedic spine surgeon who can advise you and perform your procedure.

Reasons You Might Need Revision Spine Surgery

Revision spine surgery can correct complications associated with a primary spine surgery, such as:

  • Failure to relieve symptoms
  • Unsuccessful joint fusion
  • Excess scar tissue formation
  • Improper diagnosis
  • Surgery at the wrong site
  • Adjacent segment disease (accelerated degeneration of adjacent discs)
  • Implant failure
  • Disc complications
  • Infection
  • Painful implants

In addition to correcting surgical complications, revision spine surgery can provide relief of persistent symptoms and new or developing spine problems.

Candidates for Revision Spine Surgery

You might be a candidate for revision spine surgery if you can identify with any of the above, especially if continuing or resuming conservative treatments has not been successful. Consider whether the following apply to you.

Worsening Symptoms

If you still have chronic pain or other symptoms that have persisted (or even worsened) after your first spine surgery, chances are that your initial procedure did not adequately correct the problem. A revision spine surgery may be able to better relieve your symptoms and improve your well-being.

Surgical Complications

Every surgery has risks and potential complications, even when the surgery is performed by a highly skilled and experienced surgeon. Before your initial procedure, your primary spine surgeon should have discussed with you the risks and possible complications, such as painful implants, implant failure, unsuccessful joint fusion, or infection. If you have experienced or believe you may have experienced complications from your initial surgery, a secondary surgery may be necessary to correct the complications.

Signs of Further Spinal Degeneration

For many patients who undergo spine surgery, chronic issues can cause further degeneration that may eventually lead to the need for a second surgery. For example, a patient with a degenerative lumbar disc due to spinal arthritis may undergo lumbar disc replacement surgery. Then, years later, the same patient may require cervical disc replacement of an arthritic, degenerative cervical disc.

Another example of further degeneration after spine surgery is adjacent segment disease, in which there is accelerated degeneration of the spinal discs that are next to the surgery site. This and other spinal degeneration problems may occur shortly after the initial procedure or years later. Revision spine surgery may be necessary to prevent continuing degeneration and help you live your best life.

Undergoing spine surgery once can be quite an ordeal, and the decision to get a secondary revision spine surgery should not be made lightly. Every patient’s condition is unique, but with a thorough diagnosis and clinical evaluation, Dr. Pehler can help you understand whether this procedure is right for you.

Dr. Stephen Pehler is a board-certified and fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon in the Denver area. As an experienced revision spine surgeon, Dr. Pehler will do everything possible to achieve a positive outcome and help you enjoy better health and well-being. To book an appointment with Dr. Pehler, call 303-695-6060 or fill out our online contact form today.