Lumbar radiculopathy is the most common indication for lumbar discectomy, but residual postoperative radicular symptoms are common. Postoperative lumbar radiculopathy secondary to scar formation is notoriously difficult to manage, with the mainstay of treatment focused on nonoperative techniques. Surgical intervention for epidural fibrosis has shown unacceptably high complication rates and poor success rates.
Three patients underwent spinal arthrodesis without direct decompression for recurrent radiculopathy due to epidural fibrosis. Each patient previously underwent lumbar discectomy but subsequently developed recurrent radiculopathy. Imaging revealed no recurrent disc herniation, although it demonstrated extensive epidural fibrosis and scar in the region of the nerve root at the previous surgical site. Dynamic radiographs showed no instability. Two patients underwent lateral lumbar interbody fusion, and one patient underwent anterior lumbosacral interbody fusion. Each patient experienced resolution of radicular symptoms by the 1-year follow-up. Average EQ visual analog scale scores improved from 65 preoperatively to 78 postoperatively.
Spinal arthrodesis via lumbar interbody fusion, without direct decompression, may relieve pain in patients with recurrent radiculopathy due to epidural fibrosis, even in the absence of gross spinal instability.