Discectomy or Microdiscectomy is a surgical intervention which is designed to remove lower back (lumbar) herniated disc material which is pressing upon a nerve root or spinal cord. Herniated disc discectomy most often tends to be performed as microdiscectomy. This procedure typically utilizes a special microscope so as to view the disc & associated nerves. This larger view allows surgeons to operate through a smaller incision & thereby causing lesser damage to the surrounding tissue. A small piece of bone called lamina may first be removed from the affected vertebra before removal of the disc material. This procedure is known as laminectomy or laminotomy. Spine discectomy is usually performed at a hospital facility under the influence of local or general anesthesia. Patients undergoing this procedure are most likely to stay overnight at the hospital.
Patients are usually encouraged to get out of bed & walk around as soon as numbness caused due to anesthesia wears off following surgery. Patients can also use prescription medications to control pain during the period of recovery. Most patients slowly resume exercises & other normal activities following discectomy surgery.
- Spine Discectomy Patients Should Also Think About the Following
- Patients may not be comfortable about sitting at first after discectomy surgery. Most patients also avoid sitting for longer than 15 – 20 minutes of time. However, sitting will improve & feel more comfortable over time.
- Patients should walk as often as they can for the first few weeks. Getting up & walking around often will also help lower risk of excessive scar tissue formation.
- Many patients are able to resume daily activities & work soon after discectomy surgery. However, in some cases doctors may suggest they undergo a rehabilitation program which may include home exercises & physical therapy.
- Patients working in offices usually get back to work within 2 – 4 weeks of time. In case their job involves physical labor like lifting or operating machinery which vibrate, they may be able to get back to work within 4 – 8 weeks following discectomy surgery.
Spine discectomy is usually performed to decrease pain & allow patients to regain normal function & movement. Doctors usually consider performing this procedure depending upon the following factors.
- When patients are having weakness, numbness or extreme pain in legs which keeps them from performing normal daily activities.
- When leg symptoms fail to improve even after 4 weeks of nonsurgical treatments.
- Results of physical examination reveal that the patient is having weakness, abnormal feeling or loss of motion & which is likely to improve with spine discectomy surgery.
- Spine discectomy surgery is usually considered an emergency when the patient is having cauda equina syndrome. Signs & symptoms of this condition include the following.
- Newer weakness in legs, usually both legs.
- Newer loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Newer tingling or numbness in legs (both legs), genital area or buttocks.
Spine discectomy for lumbar herniated discs usually provide faster pain relief than any other nonsurgical treatments. However, it is still unclear whether this surgical intervention makes any difference to the type of treatment which may be needed at a later stage. However, people undergoing standard discectomy or microdiscectomy procedure have reported similar outcomes even after one year following surgery. Spinal fusion is another surgical procedure which joins two vertebrae in the back. But spinal fusion is still a controversial & complex operation which is not commonly performed with discectomy. In case doctors suggest patients to undergo spinal fusion with discectomy, it would be sensible for the patient to seek a second opinion. There is another form of discectomy procedure which uses laser beams for treatment. However, laser discectomy is still in the research stage.
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