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29.10.2019 | Original Article | Sonderheft 1/2020 Open Access

European Spine Journal 1/2020

Revision after failed discectomy

European Spine Journal > Sonderheft 1/2020
Christoph Mehren, Lorenz Wanke-Jellinek, Andreas Korge
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00586-019-06194-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Recurrent lumbar disc herniation is the most common complication after discectomy. Due to the altered anatomy with the presence of scar tissue, the surgical revision of already operated patients could be a surgical challenge.


We describe the microsurgical revision technique step by step with the evaluation of our own clinical results in comparison with primary lumbar disc surgeries. The clinical data are based on a clinical register with 2576 recorded primary surgeries (PD) and 592 cases of revisions (RD) with 12- and 24-month follow-up (FU). The intraoperative dura lesion rates of the surgeries between 2016 and 2018 were recorded retrospectively. Data from 894 primary disc surgeries and 117 revisions were evaluated.


The ODI and the VAS for leg and back pain improved in both groups significantly with slightly inferior outcome of the revision group. The ODI improved from 46.3 (PD) and 45.9 (RD), respectively, to 12.6 (PD) and 22.9 (RD) at the 24-month FU. The VAS dropped down as well in both group [VAS back: 47.8 (PD) and 43.9 (RD) to 19.9 and 32.2 at the 24-month FU; VAS leg: 62.9 (PD) and 65.5 (RD) to 15.6 and 26.8 at the 24-month FU]. During the primary interventions, we observed 1.5% (11/894) and during revisions 7.7% (9/117) of dura lesions.


There is no clear guideline for the surgical treatment of recurrent disc herniations. In most cases, a pure re-discectomy is sufficient and can be performed safely and effectively with the help of a microscope.

Graphic abstract

These slides can be retrieved under Electronic Supplementary Material.

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