Lumbar Microdiscectomy – What is it and How can it Benefit You?
A lumbar microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses smaller incisions to remove a damaged disc from the lower back. On occasion, the discs that sit between the vertebrae of the spine can dry out and become weaker with age or as a result of injury. If this happens, the inner part of the disc may bulge out and press on the spinal nerves which can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness or weakness in various parts of the body. Therefore, removing the herniated or degenerative disc can help take the pressure off the spinal cord and relieve any subsequent symptoms.
Why You May Need a Lumbar Microdiscectomy
A lumbar microdiscectomy is typically used to treat patients with herniated discs in the lower back that are triggering symptoms. While it cannot be used to treat all types of back pain and not every patient with a herniated disc requires this procedure, there are a few reasons why a doctor may recommend surgery including:
- The disc may be intact but is protruding and putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
- An invertebral fragment may have broken off from the disc and is putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves.
- Pain, weakness, or numbness in the legs prevents you from performing normal daily activities.
- Other treatment options have not provided relief for severe symptoms due to a damaged disc.
- A physical examination indicates that symptoms will likely get better following the procedure.
What to Expect from a Lumbar Microdiscectomy Procedure
The main goal of a lumbar microdiscectomy is to remove a damaged disc that is affecting the spinal nerve. Read on to learn more about what you can expect from the process from start to finish:
- Before the Procedure: Patients may undergo presurgical testing several days prior to the procedure and it is recommended to avoid taking blood thinners and anti-inflammatory drugs 1-2 weeks before your scheduled appointment. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia, meaning patients will be unconscious for the entire surgery and unable to feel anything.
- During the Procedure: Once the patient is sedated, they will be rolled over onto their stomach. A small incision will be made on the back where a special x-ray will be used to determine the exact location of the affected disc. A wire is then inserted into the opening where tubes are placed on top until the surrounding tissue is pushed apart enough. Using small, specialized tools, a camera and light, the surgeon will remove the damaged disc and make any necessary repairs. All medical tools are then removed, and a small bandage is placed over the incision.
- After the Procedure: Most patients will be discharged from the clinic on the same day as the surgery and instructions may be given regarding how you can use your back during recovery. For instance, a back brace may be recommended to provide additional support. Small amounts of fluid draining from the site of incision is normal but it is important to notify your healthcare provider if you notice a large amount of drainage or if you have pain in the area and develop a fever. While the area may be sore for a while, you can expect to resume normal daily activities like going to work within a week or two of surgery.
What are the Benefits of a Lumbar Microdiscectomy?
A lumbar microdiscectomy uses minimally invasive techniques to help decrease pain and allow patients to regain normal function. Some other benefits of this procedure may include:
- Reliable surgery for immediate relief of pain due to conditions such as herniated discs or sciatica
- Minimal scar tissue formation due to smaller incisions
- Less disruption to lower back muscles speeds up recovery time with less post-operative pain
- Can be performed with moderate sedation
- Performed as an outpatient procedure so patients can go home on the same day
As an experienced surgeon, Dr. Adam Lewis at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic can help you evaluate the benefits and risks of a minimally invasive lumbar microdiscectomy compared to traditional open surgery and find the most appropriate solution to meet your needs. For the past 20 years we have used tubular retractors, endoscopes, lasers, and microscopes to perform microdiscectomies.
Contact us today to learn more about lumbar microdiscectomy or to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists. We’ll find a solution that works for you! Call us at (601) 366-1011.