On Dec. 12, the team placed Shazier on injured reserve.
Dr. Anthony Alessi, a neurologist who consults with the NFLPA, told Michele Steele of ESPN.com that Shazier "may not play football again" and that this surgery indicates "this is a much more severe situation on our hands than we thought." Alessi added that surgery would be needed when bones around the spine are dislocated and that this injury is more severe than a contusion, according to Steele.
Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that Shazier will need months of recovery "before he considers a return to football."
He returned to Pittsburgh after staying in Cincinnati Dec. 5 following his spinal injury that knocked him out of Pittsburgh's Monday night game against the Bengals, the team announced Dec. 6.
On Dec. 5, Shazier was hospitalized at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and underwent testing before being cleared to return to Pittsburgh, according to Dr. David Okonkwo of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Dr. Joseph Cheng of University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Shazier was injured Monday night after a hit to Bengals receiver Josh Malone. He went to the ground immediately after making contact with the crown of his helmet to Malone, and then began reaching at his back. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Shazier regained "some movement in his lower extremities" Tuesday morning
Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com reported that Shazier was diagnosed with a spinal contusion.
Shazier, a 2014 first-round pick from Ohio State, started the first 12 games this season for the Steelers. His 89 tackles and three interceptions are both the top marks for Pittsburgh, and he also has two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for the year.