A lumbar microdiscectomy also known as microdecompression is a minimally invasive surgery used to remove the portion of a herniated disc that is irritating or inflaming the nerve root. A microdiscectomy is performed through a small incision in the middle of the lower back. This surgery can help relieve leg or back pain if alternative methods, such as physical therapy or pain medications, have proven ineffective. This microdecompression procedure for the herniated or degenerated disc pressing on an affected nerve is removed in order to relieve the pressure.
Who is a candidate for microdiscectomy
People who are experiencing leg pain from a herniated disc that has not been resolved in over six weeks and have failed on other therapies are the most typical candidates. If the pain is severe and interferes with their activities of daily living or they are unable to sleep or work, a minimally invasive microdiscectomy may be the best solution sooner than six weeks.
Understanding the microdiscectomy procedure
Lumbar microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgery and is performed as an outpatient. Anesthesia should eliminate any pain or discomfort during the procedure. Typically the surgeon will insert a small tube into the lower back. The herniated disc is then removed with specialized tools, using the tube as a guide. The surgeon then uses operating glasses or an operating microscope to be able to clearly see the nerve root. The fragments of disc that are displaced will be removed, the incision is then closed and bandaged. Alternately, the surgeon may choose to use lasers to remove the disc. In either case, the incision will be very small and should heal quickly.
Risks and complications
As with any surgery, there are risks involved, such as reaction to the anesthesia, blood clots, excessive bleeding, and infection. Complications specific to microdiscectomy can be nerve damage or persistent pain, bladder incontinence and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Expected recovery time
One of the advantages of minimally invasive surgery is it is an outpatient procedure. Patients are typically are released to go home after a few hours. Recovery times vary from patient to patient but many people can return to work within a week or so. Typically doctors recommend abstaining from bending, twisting or lifting for a period of six weeks after surgery. Patients are given a course of physical therapy exercises to perform. Physical therapy will help the patient regain strength in the back after surgery.
If you are suffering from a herniated disc and would like to understand if a lumbar microdiscectomy is the right treatment option for you contact us for a consultation with one of our spine surgeons.