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Surg Neurol. 2005 Sep;64(3):226-31; discussion 231.

Recurrent lumbar disc herniation after discectomy: outcome of repeat discectomy.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Second Medical University, Shanghai 200092, China.



Recurrent disc herniation after discectomy is relatively lacking in specific studies and is usually reviewed along with other causes of failed disc surgery. The purpose of the current study was to address the outcome in the patients who had recurrent disc herniation treated with repeat discectomy and to identify the factors that may influence the outcome.


Thirty-nine patients who underwent repeat discectomy for recurrent lumbar disc herniation were retrospectively analyzed. Of these patients, 27 had recurrent disc herniation at the L4 to L5 level, 11 at the L5 to S1, and 1 at the L3 to L4. They almost had the typical presentation of sciatica. The time from prior discectomy to that of recurrence ranged 6 months to 17 years (average, 5 years and 4 months). The Japanese Orthopaedic Association (JOA) score averaged 12 (range, -3 to 18). All patients had a follow-up evaluation at 1 and 15 years (average, 7 years and 8 months) after surgery.


Their JOA score increased to 12 to 29 (average, 24), with the recovery rate of 29% to 100% (average, 72%). Twenty-nine patients returned to their previous work status or normal daily activity, 7 had significant improvement, and 3 needed analgesic drugs although they had pain relief to different degrees.


The outcomes of repeat discectomy for recurrent disc herniation were satisfactory. No factors such as age, sex, traumatic events, times of prior surgery, level of herniation, side of recurrence, pain-free interval, duration of recurrence symptoms, walking capacity, the preoperative JOA score, associated spinal stenosis, procedures of revision surgery, and dural tear were found to be of predictive value for a prognosis of revision surgery for recurrent disc herniation (P>.05).

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