Recurrent Lumbar Disc Herniation: What to Know

If you're considering surgery for a lumbar disc herniation at the L5-S1 level, one risk you'll want to be aware of is if you're at an increased risk of developing a recurrent herniation in the same spot after surgery.

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Herniated DiscIs there an increased risk of recurrent lumbar disc herniation after surgery?
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A recent study examined the results of 467 patients who had surgery for a lumbar disc herniated and assessed the preoperative risk factors for developing a recurrent disc herniation.

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In this study, 39 patients—or 8.3 percent of patients—developed another disc herniation in the same spot (in the disc at the L5-S1 level) after surgery. This rate of recurrence is consistent with prior clinical studies.

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The study examined a number of factors, including:

  • Radiologic parameters, such as such as disc height, disc degeneration, and more
  • Clinical parameters, such as the patient's age, BMI, diabetes, smoking, and more

The study concluded that the following factors contributed to increased risk of developing a recurrent disc herniation after discectomy surgery:

  • Several biomechanical factors, including moderate disc degeneration with preserved disc height, as well as a few other detailed anatomical factors
  • Being male
  • Having a large tear in the annulus

If you're considering having a microdiscectomy for symptoms from a lumbar herniated disc, talk to your surgeon about your individual risk factors so that you are well informed before the surgery.

See Scar Tissue and Pain After Back Surgery

Learn more:

Microdiscectomy (Microdecompression) Spine Surgery

Conservative vs Surgical Care for Lower Back Pain

Can Herniated Discs Heal on Their Own?


  1. Kim KT, Lee DH, Cho DC, Sung JK, Kim YB. Preoperative Risk Factors for Recurrent Lumbar Disk Herniation in L5-S1.. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2015;28(10):E571-7. Accessed December 15, 2015.
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