Overweight and smoking promote recurrent lumbar disk herniation after discectomy

Alessandro Siccoli, Victor E. Staartjes, Anita M. Klukowska, J. Paul Muizelaar, Marc L. Schröder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Recurrent lumbar disk herniation (rLDH) following lumbar microdiscectomy is common. While several risk factors for primary LDH have been described, risk factors for rLDH have only sparsely been investigated. We evaluate the effect of Body mass index (BMI) and smoking on the incidence and timing of rLDH. Methods: From a prospective registry, we identified all patients undergoing primary tubular microdiscectomy (tMD), with complete BMI and smoking data, and a minimum 12-month follow-up. We defined rLDH as reherniation at the same level and side requiring surgery. Overweight was defined as BMI > 25, and obesity as BMI > 30. Intergroup comparisons and age- and gender-adjusted multivariable regression were carried out. We conducted a survival analysis to assess the influence of BMI and smoking on time to reoperation. Results: Of 3012 patients, 166 (5.5%) underwent re-microdiscectomy for rLDH. Smokers were reoperated more frequently (6.4% vs. 4.0%, p = 0.007). Similarly, rLDH was more frequent in obese (7.5%) and overweight (5.9%) than in normal-weight patients (3.3%, p = 0.017). Overweight smokers had the highest rLDH rate (7.6%). This effect of smoking (Odds ratio: 1.63, 96% CI: 1.12–2.36, p = 0.010) and BMI (Odds ratio: 1.09, 95% CI: 1.02–1.17, p = 0.010) persisted after controlling for age and gender. Survival analysis demonstrated that rLDH did not occur earlier in overweight patients and/or smokers. Conclusions: BMI and smoking may directly contribute to a higher risk of rLDH, but do not accelerate rLDH development. Smoking cessation and weight loss in overweight or obese patients ought to be recommended with discectomy to reduce the risk for rLDH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEuropean Spine Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Discectomy
  • Lifestyle
  • Lumbar disk herniation
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Recurrence
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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