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Reherniation after discectomy

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi all

I had a disc herniation at L5/S1 and had a microdiscectomy in Jan of this year. That surgery stopped the pain that was going down the back of my leg but I still had back,butt, hip and left side of thigh pain. We had a new MRI done in Aug and after trying to reach my surgeon for 2 months to get an answer on it I finally had someone else look at it and found there is a re-herniation at the same level as well as scar tissue abutting the left thecal sac, in the left lateral recess and partially encasing the sciatic nerve. The interventional radiologist wants to do an injection to that location in an attempt to fix it. He said not sure a good idea to do surgery for scar tissue as it will just scar again. Has anyone else had a similar experience? Thanks.


  • If you read through a lot of the posts here, you will see that most folks start with a discectomy that eventually fails (i.e., the disc reherniates, or something goes wrong). I had a similar case. Now, that is not to say that the discectomy never works. It can occasionally, but I've read story after story about being pain free for a while after discectomy and then problems again. I don't know about your particular situation and how they can tell that it's scar tissue that is causing your problem. I know I had to have a fusion to get mine fixed.


    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Hi Abbey, The neuro I saw first wanted to do a discectomy based on an MRI. I went to an ortho as a second opinion. He did an xray and found spondylolithesis. I wound up with fusion to correct it. I am glad that I got the second opinion. I believe that if I had had only the discectomy that I would have had continuing issues. I'm not saying that you have this issue but there MAY be a bigger picture to consider.
  • They did an mri with contrast so they could differentiate between the disc material and the scar tissue so they can see it is both disc material coming out onto the nerve and the scar tissue on the nerve. So you re-herniated and had to have another discectomy and the full disc removed and replaced and fused? I hope it doesn't come to that for me? I already had the cervical fusion. Ugh.
  • jlrfryejjlrfrye ohioPosts: 1,110
    I also had disc herniation at l5-s1 with a discectomy. I re-herniated within 3 months and had to have a redo surgery. That has lasted 6 years, I am now experiencing leg and lower back pain again due to scar tissue. I have been doing the injections and they are helping with the pain. I also have re-herniated. My surgeon has said no more surgeries. Between lower back and cervical I have had 6. So I would rather do a 100 injections then go through surgery again. lol.
  • What is a discectomy? I thought it was removing the disc??? If that is so, how would one reherniate a disc that not there? I have a laminectomy at l5-s1 and that disc reherniated. Sorry if this sounds like a dumb question......

  • Microdiscectomy? Partial removal?
  • A microdiscectomy usually removes just the part of the disc that is prolapsed - it causes less disruption to the normal structure of that section of the spine than if the whole disc is removed, but the downside is that there is a higher risk of the disc prolapsing again. That's my (admittedly non-expert) understanding of the basic procedure.
  • They just removed that part of the disc that was protruding and left everything else there. Exactly like Huggy said they want to leave what they can there instead of removing it all and doing a fusion but the downside is if you left part of the disc there it has the risk of re-herniating. They did a laminectomy to me too, as I understand it that is taking off the "roof" of the spine so they can get to the disc. So it sounds like we have a similar situation. How long after your sugery did you re-herniate?
  • I think if you lead an active lifestyle then the chances of re-herniation are greater. You can also simply bend, twist, or lift something at the wrong time, in the wrong way and pop. Re-herniated.

    I had a micro at L5-S1. It is re-herniated due to an MVA. The jolt on impact and fighting with the car to avoid crashing a barrier. It just pushed the disc too far while it was stll healing. There is no point now doing another micro.

    As I had explained the difference between a microdiscectomy and a discectomy is the tools used. There is also typically less material taken in a micro. If you talk to your surgeon ask him/her to show you the tools they use. The ones for a micro are very small in comparison but do the same functions. You can do do a micro with a very small hole that doesn't even rate 1 stitch.

    If you're really lucky and have otherwise healthy disc. Then a micro surgery can heal up and you are done. I believe most who do a micro are just delaying the inevitable. That is what I was doing. My ortho at the time wanted to only do micro and hoped it would last a couple of years. We wanted to see if ADR would improve and be acceptable when I would need it. That isn't the case. So fusion is the only realistic option.
  • I had a discectomy on L4/5 and was much better for about 6 - 7 months, then suffered a re-herniation and also had a lot of scar tissue built up. The pain I experienced when it returned, however, was totally different than before my first surgery, and the second surgery did nothing for that pain. I should have questioned the surgery knowing it was not the same kind of pain, but I did not know any better. After that, I went to an Ortho/spine surgeon who I am with now. I should have gotten his opinion before the second surgery, but like I said I was clueless. Now I am having fusion surgery in 10 days.

    I hope everything goes well for you.

  • When they did your redo surgery did they just go in and do the same thing again or did they do a fusion at that point? Was your first surgery a microdiscetomy? Thanks
  • Thanks for sharing with me Deanna. What did they do in your second surgery? What is a alif/plif? I had a 2 level fusion on my cervical in 08 and that has gone ok. It's just been my lumbar that has been the trouble. I had a acdf in 08 on the cervical. I'll be thinking of you. Hope all goes well with your fusionand I hope you have an easy recovery.
  • Hope it all goes well for you Deanna!
    I'm almost 2 weeks Post-Op on a L4-L5
    MD still have pains very different pains mind you.

    I called the PA Fri told him, that 40-50 mg Lortab and
    3 5mg Val daily wasn't helping at all. So please call something better in please! My Sister comes home with a dose pack for Predispose!!! I cannot believe this guy!
    I am talking with me original Internist/PM Doc first of the week about getting him to please take over the PM issues. This is ridiculous!
    So I hope for your sake you get an upfront promise about pain relief in writing and even though my pain contract promised and in my opinion they are delivering on it!

    Good luck!
    C3-4-5 fusion 2005
    C-5-T-1 disk bulged
    L-4-5 bulge to the right, with Microdiscectomy, failed
    L5- Bi-Lateral bulge
    Pain in right foot -loss of feeling
    Left butt, hip and front thigh pain with bad shooting pain into inside ankle sometimes
  • Thank you for helping me understand. I had a friend whos father had a discectomy where the remove the entire disc. I appreciate the clarification for sure. Good luck!
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