What is Microdiscectomy?

Microdiscectomy Discectomy is the partial removal of the herniated tissue that is pressing on the nerve root of the spinal cord. Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure and is known as microdecompression. The goal of a microdiscectomy is to remove portions of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on the nerves. Microdiscectomy procedure has long-term success in the treatment of herniated disc.

A herniated disc usually puts a lot of pressure on the nearby spinal nerve especially in the neck or lower back. When this happens, symptoms including pain and stiffness in the back, numbness, and tingling in the arms or legs, may be present. At times, conservative approaches to disc herniations may not relieve all your symptoms, and surgery may be necessary to help decompress the affected nerve and allow you to recover fully. Your physician will recommend Microdiscectomy for the following conditions:

  • Herniated lumbar disc
  • Sciatica is caused by compression of the spinal nerve resulting in the herniated lumbar disc.
  • Pain that keeps you from being able to do your daily activities.
  • Numbness or weakness caused by the disc pressing on nerves.
  • Unable to control your bladder or bowels.
  • Trouble standing or walking.
  • Leg symptoms do not get better even after 6 weeks of nonsurgical treatment.
  • When you have cauda equina syndrome, then surgery is considered an emergency.

How is Microdiscectomy performed?

The surgeons perform a microdiscectomy using small incisions, specialized instruments, and microscopes. Microdiscectomy is performed under general anaesthesia.

  1. Step 1 – Your surgeon makes a small incision (1- to 1 1/2-inch) directly over the affected disc.
  2. Step 2 – A lighted microscope helps your surgeon to see the affected area.
  3. Step 3 – The surgeon removes a small portion of bone that protects the root nerve.
  4. Step 4 – With a scissor-like tool, your surgeon removes the damaged herniated tissue, thus relieving the pressure on the nerve.
  5. Step 5 – The incision is closed with sutures.

The spinal nerve now has the space needed inside the spinal cord, so any pain that is caused by pinching on the nerve should stop. After surgery, your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are monitored.

What are the Dos & Don’ts after Microdiscectomy?

  • Avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting
  • Gradually increase your activities, such as walking
  • Avoid bending over or twisting the spine immediately after the surgery
  • Avoid driving and sitting for a prolonged period

What are the complications after Microdiscectomy?

Microdiscectomy is a safe procedure, so complications are rare. However, the possible complications may include:

  • nerve root damage
  • recurrent disc herniation
  • bowel/bladder incontinence (very rare)
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • A build-up of fluid in the lungs leads to pneumonia
  • Deep vein thrombosis, which occurs due to blood clots in the leg
  • Pain that persists after the surgery

What is the outcome of Microdiscectomy?

The recovery time is much shorter than other invasive procedures. Therefore, most people can expect to leave the hospital that same day, or within 24 hours. You may also need to slowly progress back to normal physical activity.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the success rate of Microdiscectomy?

The success rate for microdiscectomy spine surgery is generally high, with one extensive medical study which shows good results for 84% of people who have the procedure.

When do I need a Microdiscectomy?

Surgery is needed if symptoms persist for more than 6 weeks and affect the patient’s daily life. The surgeon removes all or only a portion of the protruding disc. The removal of only a portion is called a microdiscectomy.

Is sciatica pain normal after Microdiscectomy?

The pain starts from the legs. Most cases of sciatica heal naturally without surgery in a few weeks. But if the pain from sciatica lasts more than 12 weeks, you can benefit from a microdiscectomy.

What happens to the disc after Microdiscectomy?

Disc reherniation does not happen with total discectomy since the entire disc has already been removed. In the case of recurrent back pain accompanied by sciatica (pain down the back of the leg) after total discectomy, it is possible that another disc is starting to herniate.

What is the difference between a discectomy and a Microdiscectomy?

Discectomy is a surgery to remove lumbar (low back) herniated disc material that is pressing on a nerve root or the spinal cord. It is done as a microdiscectomy, using a special microscope to view the disc and nerves and this complete view allows the surgeon to use a smaller cut (incision).

How do I know if my Microdiscectomy failed?

In addition to chronic back pain, other symptoms of failed back surgery include numbness, weakness, tingling sensations, leg pain, and radicular pain.

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