What Is Revision Spine Surgery?

Revision spine surgery is any surgery done to correct the mistakes of a previous spine surgery. Like any operation, spinal surgery can fail, and if it does, a patient may need revision spinal surgery to correct the original surgery.

Patients may need revision spine surgery if they underwent spine surgery but keep having pain. Other symptoms may appear, including nerve problems and spinal infections. In that case, their surgeon will need to reexamine their case and decide if they need additional surgery.

Based off of the results of the first surgery, medical professionals can sometimes make a more accurate diagnosis and make the revision surgery more likely to succeed.

Going through a second operation is financially costly and disheartening. However, most patients are happy with the results, which include greatly reduced or eliminated pain.

Revision spine surgery patients will have to spend several days in the hospital following their operation. Following that, they face weeks to months of recovery time before they are fully back to normal.

Revision spine surgery is not uncommon. Estimates suggest 9% to 15% of spine patients need revision surgery, and a small percentage will need at least one more surgery.

Signs that you may need revision spine surgery

A patient might need revision surgery if they have new spinal pain, or if the spinal pain they had before surgery doesn’t go away. Typically, a spinal surgery should remove pain within three months. If pain persists longer than that, something is wrong.

There are other symptoms that could suggest a patient needs revision spinal surgery:

  • Spinal infections
  • Increased spinal instability
  • Cauda equina syndrome
  • Bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Nerve problems

These symptoms, however, way also warrant different diagnoses.

Causes of spine surgery failure

The original spinal surgery might have failed for several different reasons. These include:

  • Post-surgical complications
  • Incorrect diagnosis
  • Surgery at wrong site
  • Scar tissue formation
  • Negligence

In any case, a medical professional will have to make a new diagnosis based on details of the original surgery to find out what went wrong. Sometimes the new information can help them to make a more accurate diagnosis.

Benefits of revision spine surgery

Spinal surgery is often an option of last resort, done when a patient has severe chronic pain that doesn’t go away. Such pain can make ordinary life extraordinarily difficult.

When a spinal surgery procedure fails, the patient is no better off than they were before. They still have chronic pain, and may have new problems as well.

Revision spine surgery is a second chance to get things right. If the previous surgery involved an incorrect diagnosis, the surgeon may now be able to perform a correct diagnosis. A portion of the original surgery performed correctly may be fixed.

In many cases, patients enjoy greatly reduced or completely eliminated pain. Although a second surgery can be costly, surgeons have more information to get the operation right the second time.

Recovery after revision spine surgery

Patients will need to stay in the hospital for several days. Recovery time varies depending on the details of the procedure. However, recovery isn’t necessarily any different from the recovery from the original surgery.

Full recovery can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, and require regular physical therapy.

Risks of revision spine surgery

All spinal surgery entails serious risks, and a second surgery can entail more risks than the original one. There is a higher risk of infection and of tissues failing to heal properly.

The problems that revision spine surgery addresses can be more complicated than the problems that primary spinal surgery addresses. This includes problems like failed fusion and the formation of scar tissue at the surgical site.

Financial cost of revision spine surgery

Because revision spine surgery can take many forms, total costs may vary widely. However, the procedure will usually be covered by insurance, if it counts as medically necessary.

At the American Neurospine Institute, our goal is to help guide you through your journey to a pain-free life. We connect patients with spine surgeons in Plano and Frisco, TX. For more information, please contact us today!

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