Microscopic & Lumbar Discectomy

Those who have experienced disc herniation know all too well the pain, weakness and numbness which can result. Whether these symptoms primarily affect the back, neck or tend to radiate down the arms and/or legs, they often cause substantial disruption to daily life and restrict mobility to an unacceptable degree.

The most frequently performed operation intended to address lumbar-related concerns, a procedure known as a lumbar discectomy, is often used to remove the damaged area of a herniated disc and relieve serious spinal nerve compression.

Traditional Lumbar Discectomy or Microdiscectomy Procedure

A discectomy procedure routinely proves helpful for patients suffering from radiating pain, muscle weakness or other symptoms, but it is important to note that there are different versions of this operation of which everyone should be aware.

Conventional, open-style surgeries continue to be performed, but increasing numbers of surgeons are turning to minimally invasive techniques which can reduce complication risks as well as recovery times.

The less invasive procedure, called the microdiscectomy, involves removal of a small area of the bone that covers the nerve root and possibly also disc material from beneath it to alleviate nerve impingement and facilitate healing.

Only a tiny incision in the lower back needs to be made to achieve the required access, something which can be accomplished while leaving ligaments, muscles and joints in the lumber region intact. This distinction is important for patients concerned about post-operative mobility and reducing the risk of accidental surgical injury.

If you are a potential candidate for microdiscectomy, please read our FAQS.

Who Should Consider Microdiscectomy

As stated earlier, many people can find relief of lower back pain and other symptoms associated with a herniated lumbar disc through non-surgical treatment options. Sometimes, however, the process of rest, therapy, and medication simply takes too long to provide relief. In other cases, the symptoms of the herniated disc are too debilitating to continue without surgical intervention.

Symptoms associated with a herniated disc may include the following:

• back pain

• sciatica, or leg or foot pain

• numbness of the leg or foot

• tingling in the leg or foot

• loss of bowel or bladder control

The North American Spine Association recommends confirming herniated disc through diagnostic imaging (MRI or CT scan, for example) if lower back pain does not respond to non-surgical treatment options within six weeks. If a herniated disc is confirmed, microscopic discectomy may be considered as a viable treatment option.

If a herniated disc is causing an inability to control your bowel or bladder, emergency surgical treatment such as a microdiscectomy is likely necessary to prevent more serious problems associated with cauda equine syndrome from compressed spinal nerves.

What to Expect

Essentially, in microdiscectomy, the surgeon removes the internal portion of the disc that is bulging and pressing against the outer ring of the disk or which has pushed through and placed pressure on the spinal nerves, causing sciatica or leg pain and weakness.

During the procedure, patients are typically under general anesthesia and can expect an overnight hospital stay. Depending on your specific circumstances, the surgeon may recommend slowly resuming daily activities, including walking and other therapeutic exercises, or may suggest rehabilitation therapy. Some people may return to work in as little as two weeks; others, particularly those whose job duties include heavy lifting, may not return to works for up to eight weeks.

Risks associated with microscopic discectomy are similar to those associated with any surgical procedure, including anesthesia risks and the risk of infection. A benefit of surgery, however, is that relief is often achieved much more quickly than through non-surgical treatment.

If you suffer from lower back pain or sciatica related to a herniated lumbar disk, talk to your surgeon to find out if microscopic discectomy is right for you. Contact us today. (855) 77-SPINE.

For more information regarding microdiscectomy, please read our FAQS.